Spamalot “Reviewed” and More Interstices
March 27, 2006
Here in the interstices again–workday is done, child picked up, and basketball starts in half an hour… (I'll no doubt be late.)
My sisters were visiting over the weekend and there was much toothless invective spouted. God, I wish I could remember a quarter of it; it was brilliant. Spluttering outrage and ironic hilarity at the world's foibles and arrogant evil. Some rhapsodic blather too, as we consumed red wines from around the world. Think we tackled every continent. World citizens, we. And wishing the best for everyone except the selfish creeps in power in some places.
Sunday night, though, spouse and I went with friends to see Spamalot. As mentioned in the previous post, Monty Python was a crucial influence in my young life. That whole British humor thing goes down like a milkshake for me. Thus I may have become a too critical audience for the American stage version. It was thoroughly enjoyable (except the 80+ temperature and a couple of hours of basketball earlier in the day that made me a little sleepy partway through) but, perhaps because I knew the price of the tickets, it didn't pack the full wallop of hysteria that I thought it might. And that the Globe review had suggested it would.
Part of the trouble is not being a regular attender of musicals. Or even theater in general, sad to say. (And jeez, even movies at this point in life.) But live theater has a slightly different aesthetic, a more generous suspension of disbelief required to start, or something. What is it, experts? Anyhow, getting sucked in takes more effort especially from the balcony and especially in the pastiche that is Spamalot.
Here's where I differ from the Globe reviewer, who said you didn't need to know the original (Monty Python's Holy Grail) to appreciate the stage version. But to me it seemed like a reprieve of scenes (the best scenes) from the movie but without the flow between them. It was more like a reminder of those scenes, with some self-referential and current events jokes thrown in. Quite funny some of them. On the whole, it made me want to see the movie again. Most impressive, besides the voice of the Lady of the Lake, Pia someone–I'll look it up, was the sets and staging and smoothness with which some of the gags were executed. The program too had a very comical page at the expense of the Finns (simply because Finland sounds like England).
So, I'd recommend it highly if you can get a cheap ticket, or if you have a special interest in set design, or if your curiosity makes you think your soul will not rest easy without having seen it. Otherwise I would recommend it to a normal degree. Could one be more wishywashy? Splunge.
Oh, another recommendation: Comfy restaurant/bar in Boston's Theater district: Intermission Tavern. High marks all round. (And free wi-fi, though I only know that from a review.)