"Monty Python's Spamalot" is exactly what one would expect from a musical "lovingly ripped off from" the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Full of tongue-in-cheek and unabashed humor delivered from a capable cast, the production is perfect for audiences who are looking for a bit of lighthearted fun.
The production begins with an introduction by the Historian, played by Joe Beuerlein, who quickly sets the stage with a brief and humorous explanation of the historical background that precedes the beginning of the play.
After a comical display of the lesser-known weapon capabilities of fish developed by the citizens of Finland, instigated by the mishearing of the Historian's setting of the scene, audience members are introduced to the play proper.
King Arthur, played by Arthur Rowan, and his trusty sidekick Patsy, played by Glenn Giron, arrive on stage in search of a few good men to serve as knights. As the story progresses, King Arthur and his motley crew of knights take off in a mighty crusade to find the Holy Grail, which, as one knight puzzlingly muses, has been lost by God who is supposed to know everything.
There are two scenes in particular that audiences will enjoy. The first is King Arthur's unsuccessful assault on a French castle whose inhabitants claim to have the Holy Grail. After a cunning series of taunts and lambasting by the French guards which quickly devolves into a childish series of insults and blowing of raspberries, the incensed King Arthur and his cohorts are driven back by citizens armed with hard bread and catapults loaded with cattle as ammunition in the appropriately named song, "Run Away."
The second scene focuses on the character of Sir Lancelot, played by Adam Garabu, and his quest to free who he at first believes to be a princess in distress. It is only when he arrives at the Castle in the Swamp that he learns that his "princess" is actually Prince Herbert, played by Beuerlein. In his earnest defense of Herbert from the dominating actions of the prince's father, played by Thomas DeMarcus, Sir Lancelot wins the love of Prince Herbert while being extravagantly outed in the song, "His Name is Lancelot."
While some musicals have a tendency to sacrifice time dedicated to plot for additional musical numbers, this play manages to avoid this trait. The one exception, purposefully made, is the song "Diva's Lament" performed by The Lady of the Lake. Upset at her lack of time on stage, The Lady of the Lake forces her own musical number into the second act like any diva worth her salt would.
A change to the cast during the Wednesday production saw the role of The Lady of the Lake filled by Melissa Chaty, whose performances stole the show. While the character of King Arthur is undoubtedly intended to be the center of attention, Chaty's voice and stage presence gracefully sets the actress in the aforementioned role.
With a gifted cast, beautifully performed music, a skilled ensemble, and a special surprise for a lucky member of the audience, this performance will leave you laughing for quite some time after the curtain falls.
"Monty Python's Spamalot" continues through Apr. 14 at National Theatre at 1321 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, in Washington, D.C. For tickets or information, visit the National Theatre website.