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Stage Artz: Spamalot - Review by Lucy Giles

Monty Python’s Spamalot is a wonderful show filled with classic humour from a classic comedy group and Stage Artz Theatre Company has done a fantastic job at putting this show together! From nods to the original movies to new translations that are just as entertaining, the production team and cast have put together an enjoyable show that leaves your sides splitting. You follow King Arthur as he travels to find men to add to his roster of knights for his Round Table as well as their first quest to find the Holy Grail. The show is a classic ensemble show that, though yes has leads, has double-ups of actors to characters which really adds to the chaotic feel the show brings. 

King Arthur is played by Christopher Hamilton, who shows a level of experience and craftsmanship in his acting choices with very expressive and confident singing. He is the most grounded and less comical character in the show that anchors the rest of the group to continue to strive towards their common goal of finding the Holy Grail. This is a master of appropriate casting too, Hamilton felt natural in his leadership role and he does well to  show careful restraint in jokes when appropriate. Hamilton is the epitome of what I imagine King Arthur to look and act like and you’re sure to think so too. 

Arthur is accompanied by Pasty, played by Miriam Gonzaga, who faithfully “rides' ' alongside Arthur throughout the show. Gonzaga is the coconut queen of this production but was banging coconuts their only job? Deceivingly, no. Gonzaga’s interpretation of this character is very expressive, very entertaining and very energetic. She reminds me of a commedia dell'arte character with her physical comedy of her character being constant and wonderfully alluring. This is another stroke of genius on the casting front as Pasty is the working class character of all the knights and Gonzaga is physically smaller than all the rest of the knights. This height difference works so well for Gongaza and is heightened even further with her constant hunching over. I enjoyed her performance immensely.

Next is The Lady of the Lake who is like Arthur’s guardian angel, guiding him in his choices, creating pathways for him and his knights and giving them tools to succeed in their quest. She is played by Linda Hale who embodied this diva with a strong voice. Hale found wonderful comedic moments in her songs, playing with different genres and sometimes sacrificed perfect tune for performative and comedic moments. This is a show of skill that Hale brings to the role and honestly if I was to ever perform next to her, I’d be too intimidated by her commanding presence.

Scott Kimpton plays Sir Galahad, the first knight that Arthur recruits, as well as Herbert's father. Kimpton is a master of accents, playing with different regions of Britain to show differences in character, and just casually winning everyone over with flawless Scottish speaking. You can tell how much effort and work he’s put into this show with his light and dark moments: displaying energy when needed and pulling bad to hammer in points. These subtle shifts display Kimpton’s skill and make his characters incredibly engaging. 

Next on the list of knights is Sir Lancelot who is played by Thomas Verschuer. Lancelot is a precocious, closeted knight who looks out for number one. Verschuer hits the ground running with amazing stage presence and an infectious energy. He has natural comedic timing and has found some really funny jokes within the text. For example, his “whfell” pronunciations, similar to the “cool whfip” Family Guy joke, slapped so hard my sides were splitting. Not to mention his commitment to “the shimmy” dancing was so lively and vigorous I was worried his pants might come down. Not that that deterred Verschur, that man can shake.

Sir Bedevere the Flatulent is played by Lachie Donlevy who, though played a wonderful knight, also made for a very funny old lady. With no offence intended here, Donlevy’s choices to be flirtatious towards other cast members on stage made for a very entertaining creepy character. He imitated voices made by the original Monty Python movies incredibly well and championed a sense of comradery with the whole cast by how willing he was to be intimate with them. I really wished I could’ve seen more of what Donlevy had to offer, but with what he was given, he made every second on stage count.

Last of the knights is Sir Robin, played by Zander Gaal, who is scared to be in confronting situations (a very useful trait in a knight). If there was ever a more perfect casting, Gaal would be it. I couldn’t look at him onstage without thinking he was a clone of Eric Idle himself. Sir Robin has probably the most wordiest song in this musical and though not all were heard, Gaal did a great job at keeping up with those lyrics.

Across the board, everyone had great comedy moments and not really any opportunities to be funny were missed, or if they were missed, it wasn’t noticed. This show is clever, witty and engaging and the ensemble is a tight unit together. Though there were some choreographic misses here and there, the costumes were dazzling and the singing was sublime. Speaking of costumes, I was so impressed with the amount of costume changes there were and how quick they were. The costume designer truly committed to the show! I was getting used to seeing the cast in “Finland wear” and then suddenly they came out in pretty much the next scene with wigs and “dead people wear”.

And if can highlight some of my favourite ensemble members here; Gabe Bartlet gives an amazing “Tim” performance with a flawless accent, Laura Neaves sends me with her “French person” costume and Oliver Inwood slays with his “Herbert” character voice choice and has my favourite line in the entire show. 

4 out of 5 mothers who are hamsters and fathers who smelled of elderberries

Photos courtesy of Grant Leslie

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