It never hurts your anticipation to wait in a humming crowd behind closed theater doors on opening night. Ah, the sheer grandeur of a stage that hosted the world premieres of Showboat, of West Side Story. “What more could you ask for, really?” I thought as I took my seat at the National Theatre.
Fart jokes, obviously.
Yes, Spamalot – the hit show based on the cult film Monty Python and the Holy Grail – is back, this time at the National Theatre. Patrick reviewed it last year when it delighted audiences at the Warner Theatre. A quick recap:
Arthur Rowan, who gave a strong performance as Arthur in 2012, gives a strong performance as Arthur in 2013; the scenes that stood out then – like the hilarious insulting French knights – well, they stand out now; and the Black Knight scene still doesn’t work.
The ensemble as a whole absolutely wows. There are no standouts, and it’s wonderful: each actor shows a strong sense of comedic timing and plays well off the other cast members. The show is physically demanding; and the performers handle it well.
The clever staging and biting jabs at musical theater stand out. Director Mike Nichols – and BT McNicholl, who re-created the direction – work in montage beautifully. The show retains its high energy throughout, although the Camelot entry song “Knights of the Round Table” was so long it might still be running right now…
On opening night, understudy Melissa Chaty played The Lady of the Lake – the show’s only female character and a poorly-written one at that. Although she carried the part well vocally, she lacked the expression necessary to bring alive her already flat role. While my favorite ladies’ man Patrick might disagree from his experience, I think the show could succeed just as well without casting a single woman, as the male ensemble plays the active roles and carries most of the comedy throughout.
Does that ruin the experience? No.
Would it make a great date night? Yes.
Does it take you on a meaningful journey? Of course not.
Should you go see it? Yes, but hurry: it only runs through April 14.
Should you go see it even if you hated the film? Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person.
Spamalot runs through April 14, 2013 at the National Theatre. The National Theatre is located at 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest Washington, DC 20004. Closest Metro stop: Metro Center (Red/Orange/Blue line). For more information call 800-745-3000.