Spamalot makes for a knight to remember!

First published in What's On The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , editor

Spamalot, Palace Theatre, Manchester. IT really shouldn't work, but the good news is that Spamalot - probably the silliest 90 minutes you'll savour in a theatre - is a triumph.

It's hard to imagine a show much more absurd than this - the main characters ride around on pretend horses (with servants clattering coconuts together to simulate the thunder of hooves), fluffy rabbits bite a man's head off and the showgirls spend more time slapping each other with fish than dancing.

Daft it is, but former Python star and the show's writer Eric Idle has somehow managed to crowbar in most of the famous team's funniest moments and weave them into a story based on their first original feature film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The result is a wonderful mixture of Pythonesque humour, but also some very catchy songs.

This production is a slimmed down version of the original London show and the relatively small cast have to work their socks off as there seems barely a moment when all of them aren't on stage in one part or another.

They give the impression that they are having a great time on stage - revelling in the sublime silliness of it all.

Silly it may be, but there are still some cracking songs; everyone can join in with Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, but He is Not Dead Yet and Knights of the Round Table are real crowd pleasers too.

My favourite is the superb The Song That Goes Like This - a devlishly spot-on spoof of the big romantic ballads, obligatory in most big musicals.

Much of the brilliant cast are present from last summer's visit by this show to Manchester's Opera House - but Marcus Brigstocke's King Arthur has been replaced with the excellent Phil Jupitus.

Todd Carty as the king's faithful manservant (and coconut clapper) Patsy seems more assured when it comes to dancing and singing than he did eight months ago and Graham MacDuff as Lancelot - and lots of other roles originally played by John Cleese - is outstanding.

Blackpool girl Jodie Prenger - winner of the I'd Do Anything TV show to find a leading lady to play Nancy in Oliver! - was absent last night because of a knee injury, but her role as the diva-like Lady of the Lake was covered extremely well by Jessica Martin.

Spamalot is a riot. I'm sure Eric Idle wouldn't mind me saying - pun most definitely intended - it really is a knight to remember.

Runs until Saturday. Tickets available from 0844 847 2277

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