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Monday, 24 October 2016

Review: Spamalot at Yarm Princess Alexandra Auditorium




King Arthur Delivers The Laughs

Spamalot
Princess Alexandra Auditorium, Yarm School
Until Saturday 29th October 2016

Director and Choreographer Joanne Hand
Musical Director John Hudson

Spamalot is the celebration of the Monty Python sense of humour and of the musical format. Whilst it pokes fun at both it doesn’t lose its sense of perspective. Slightly tongue-in-cheek, the music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle and the fabulous book ad lyrics by Eric Idle regularly make the audience laugh. In this production, by the Darlington Operatic Society, the sense of humour which made the original production such a hit has been retained. A great cast delivered a fun night.

We need to mention the venue. The usual venue, Darlington Civic Theatre is undergoing a major refurbishment and hence a new venue was needed. The Princess Alexandra Auditorium may be the school hall for Yarm School but it is also a superb theatre. It is a recent build, the interior of which reminded us of a smaller version of the Philharmonie in Cologne. The wood panelling providing great acoustic, like the Gateshead Sage and a very wide stage which cannot be far off the dimensions of Newcastle’s Northern Stage. There is also plenty of free parking available on site. No wonder the venue is being used for tours by musicians and comics alike – see http://www.thepaaonline.org/ for details.

The show begins with the overture under musical director John Hudson. The 15 piece orchestra is hidden behind the set but do a great job with accompanying the action on stage.  The Historian (Paul Fothergill) sets out the story. Middle Ages Britain is full of plague and pestilence. It is up to the King to bring order to these Isles and that man is King Arthur who needs to raise and army and find the Holy Grail.

The Spamalot cast
The key roles have been well cast. Julian Cound makes for a suitably statesman-like King Arthur. He is commanding and yet ignorant of those around him. This includes his faithful and downtrodden Patsy, played by Eddie Jones, who expresses  his feelings to the audience, both verbally and non-verbally very clearly. Some of the big numbers are handled by the King’s love interest, the Lady Of The Lake; a role for which Ruby Hoggarth does really well.

The early jokes set the tone well. From discussing the origins of coconuts through to asking someone called Dennis to kneel, there are plenty of early laughs. 

The supporting knights Sir Galahad, Sir Lancelot, Sir Bedevere and Sir Robin (Luke Oldfield,  Leighton Taylor, Jason Slater and Richard Hamilton) each have their own, brief and funny, story to tell.   Special mention goes to Leighton who also handles the additional comedic roles of the Knight of Ni and the French Taunter.

The direction by Joanne Hand ensured the pace didn’t slow and the comedy moments were all fully exploited. Joanne also handled the numerous choreographed dance numbers which showed off the ensembles talents well. 

The castle set did a very professional job of letting the action flow as did the lighting and projection design.  The costumes were noticeably bright and jolly, especially for the opening Fisch Schlapping Song.

Spamalot is a great comedy and a talented cast, crew and creative team have pulled off a very professional feeling and funny show. If you love the Monty Python sense of humour then it is well worth the trip to Yarm to see King Arthur and his merry band in a great new auditorium.

Review by Stephen Oliver(@panic_c_button)



Tickets:
Monty Python’s Spamalot will have seven performances at the Princess Alexandra Auditorium this autumn – Monday 24th to Saturday 29th October at 7.30pm with a 2pm matinee on Saturday 29 October. The BSL interpreted performance will take place on Thursday 27 October.
Tickets are priced £16 for adults and £10 for children (aged 14 and under) and can be purchased online at www.darlingtonos.org.uk, or by phone on 01325 244659.




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