Review Roundup: Monty Python at the O2
Monty Python Live (mostly) opened on stage at the London O2 Arena for 10 memorable nights in July. This reunion promises to be the biggest live event of the year and their final show, 'The Last Night of the Pythons' will be broadcast live into more than 450 cinemas in the UK, and into 1500 cinemas worldwide.
Let's see what the critics had to say:
Theo Bosanquet of Whatsonstage: It starts fairly promisingly, with a jolly overture teasing us with glimpses of the classics to come - from "Sit on my Face" to "Every Sperm is Sacred" - followed by the arrival of the Pythons via a 'retardis', that swoops in from outer space after dispatching of missing member Graham Chapman.... After a photo opp (which, needless to say, the crowd took full advantage of), the real business begins with the Llama sketch, featuring 'seventh Python' Carol Cleveland, followed swiftly by the Four Yorkshiremen - which, if anything, works better performed by the now septuagenarian Pythons than it did back in the day.
Bruce Dessau of the Evening Standard: After the hype, speculation and shameless self-publicity the surviving Pythons finally got down to the seriously funny business of actually performing last night. The first of ten shows at the O2 Arena did not offer many welcome surprises, but there was no doubt that in terms of successfully revisiting past glories John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam delivered... The new twists were the least successful elements. The young dance troupe, choreographed by Arlene Phillips, mostly kept the energy up, but their much-talked about high-kicking Silly Walks interpretation was a bowler hatted let-down.
Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian: The Pythons weren't miming - although there was a Spanish Inquisition level of unexpectedness in their liberal use of videos projected onto huge screens showing some of their greatest TV sketches, just to cover the scene changes. It is always a pleasure to see Terry Gilliam's mini-masterpieces of animation on a giant scale and there is even arguably a new level of surreality to this massive spectacle, a old-fashioned revue blown up to stadium level, a rickety geriatric gang being greeted with mass ecstasy... As a fan, I have to admit to a twinge of awe and even an uncool microsecond of lachrymose emotion at seeing them together again - looking old, as old as the Four Yorkshiremen were supposed to be when they originally did the sketch as young men.
John Walsh of the Independent: Early signs are propitious. The vast auditorium has been transformed into a sumptuous English music hall, all velvet curtains, curly staircases, fat cherubs and a full orchestra oom-pah-pahing Sousa marches. An early animation by Terry Gilliam sends the late Graham Chapman's head cannoning off the planets and a Dr Who police box disgorges the remaining Pythons - who milk the applause for several minutes.
Dominic Maxwell of the Times: This is a celebration, and if you're in the fan club - if you're not what are you doing here? - you will cut these comedy pioneers the requisite slack... You notice, as they sit down for the Four Yorkshiremen sketch, that their performances have lost pace... Gilliam is not a natural actor, yet he has a magnetic energy that age has not dimmed as he performs Gumby flower-arranging or flanks Palin as Cardinal Fang in the Spanish Inquistion sketch... And Eric Idle, the show's director, clearly loves his every moment on stage. He sings his songs (including an encore of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life"), he joins Palin as a camp judge slipping into sexy female undergarments, he relaxes the audience.