Incline’s “Spamalot” Proves that the Monty Python Revival Is Not Dead Yet
Posted On March 24, 2018
Review by Doug Iden of Spamalot: Incline Theatre
You’ll never view the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table quite the same way again as Monty Python’s Spamalot invaded the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater. The show is based upon a Monty Python movie which spoofs the King Arthur legend, the British class system and Broadway musicals. It is an equal opportunity satire and not politically correct. Predictably, there is a lot of British humor which sometimes befuddles American audiences.
The zaniness starts immediately as the Historian (Philip Stock) sets the scene for the show but the ensemble confuses England with Finland and sings the “Fisch Schlapping Song”. It’s all hilariously downhill from there.
Next, we meet King Arthur (Rodger Pille) “galloping” in to the accompaniment of his trusty squire Patsy (Aaron Whitehead) slapping two coconut halves together to simulate the sound of the horse’s hooves. This becomes an ongoing gag throughout the play. Arthur is trying to recruit Knights to his cause but is having some difficulties. Some of his recruits include Galahad (Jeremiah Plessinger), Lancelot (Brett Bowling who also designed the sets) and Robin (Kyle Taylor). Many of the actors play multiple roles in the show and sometimes it’s hard to distinguish them but highlights include the three actors mentioned above.
On one recruiting sortie, they encounter several “dead” bodies being carted away because of the plague. However, several of the ensemble object by singing the darkly comic “I Am Not Dead Yet” and then join Arthur’s merry band.
We are now introduced to the Lady of the Lake (Allison Bredestege) at a nightclub called Camelot along with high-kicking “Laker Girls” satirizing cheerleaders at athletic events. Then, she and Galahad sing a scathing spoof of Broadway love duets with “The Song That Goes Like This” and this and this and this. (You get the point.) That song and the second act lament “Whatever Happened to my Part” are high points of the show with clever lyrics by Python regular Eric Idle.
With his band now intact, Arthur is ready for his Quest as the company joins for the inspirational, win-one-for-the-Gipper, song “Find Your Grail”.
In the second act, the Knights are lost and become separated. To find their way, they must perform some challenges including the creation of a Broadway musical (1,000 years before one actually existed). Enough of the plot which is paper thin but it does allow the insanity to continue.
Part of the fun is trying to identify all of the allusions to Broadway musicals. In one scene, members of the ensemble are dressed as characters from various shows including Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Chorus Line, Cabaret, and Damn Yankees, all costumes designed by Caren Brady, and one of the production numbers is called “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway (if you don’t have any Jews)”.
There are also a number of large production numbers (also spoofing musicals) choreographed by Kate Stark and led by dance captain Jules Shumate. During the last several shows at the Incline, the dancing ability and complexity is improving. Musical Director Dr. Brian Hoffman ably directs the band.
In addition to playing multiple characters, Brett Bowling has designed an interesting set which displays several different castles, a nightclub and a forest with the trademark movable set pieces.
But the technical highlights go to Caren Brady for the multi-varied costumes. Only Arthur wears the same costume throughout the show while all the other actors have different costumes worn by their differing characters. The fast-paced action is well directed by Matthew Wilson with many sight gags resulting from rapid movement on and off the stage by the actors.
I think that if you go to Spamalot you will Like-It-A-Lot and be prepared to Laugh-A-Lot. Spamalot continues at the Incline through April 8. Tickets can be obtained at the Incline Theatre website, http://cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com.