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Review: MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT at Blackfriars Theatre

Review: MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT at Blackfriars Theatre

Now through September 25th.

Rochester's Blackfriars Theatre is kicking off its 2022-2023 season with a bigger and splashier musical than has been seen on its stage in recent years, owing to the financial and logistical constraints put on the organization-and arts organizations everywhere-- by the COVID-19 pandemic. They could not have picked a more whacky, cheeky, laugh-out-loud way to welcome back audiences to a new season than with Monty Python's "Spamalot", the 2005 Tony Award-winning smash ensemble hit from the minds of John Du Prez and Eric Idle.

"Spamalot" is, of course, a theatrical reimagining of Monty Python's 1975 cult hit "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", and tells the classic story of King Arthur (Scott Shriner)'s quest, only thoroughly injected with absurdity and silliness throughout. "Spamalot" features shenanigans including a line of beautiful dancing girls, flatulent Frenchmen (Colin D. Pazik), and killer rabbits. Outside, there is plague with a 50% chance of pestilence and famine. Throughout the show, Arthur, traveling with his servant Patsy (Ian Yates), recruits several knights to accompany him on his quest, including Sir Bedevere (Ron Dufort), Sir Robin (JoJo Adams), Sir Lancelot (Colin D. Pazik), and Sir Galahad (Jonah Martin). Besides the rabbits and farting Frenchman, they meet such characters as the Lady of the Lake (Chelsea M. Smith), Prince Herbert (Joseph Davila), Tim the Enchanter (Colin D. Pazik), Not Dead Fred (Joseph Davila), the Black Knight (Jonah Martin), and the Knights who say Ni.

Monty Python's Flying Circus was above all else, a sketch show (one of the first!) that hinged on the comedic timing and dry British sensibilities of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam. I was skeptical that a cohort of Rochester-based theatre actors could do this brand of comedy justice-after all, pretty big shoes to fill-but I'm happy to report that Shriner, Pazik et al come about as close to those vaunted members of British comedic royalty as it's possible to come, though admittedly sometimes playing footsy with straight-up impersonation. Shriner's King Arthur is bloated and self-important, as he should be. Pazik's Sir Lancelot is only outdone in absurdity by the barrage of smaller-bit characters he plays, particularly the one that says NI! And Yates' Patsy has mastered the clapping of the coconuts so perfectly you would think Terry Gillam himself provided tutelage. Set against this collection of British buffoonery is Chelsea M. Smith's Lady of the Lake, who provides a soulful and sultry counterweight to Arthur and his gaggle of goons.

By far the funniest sequence in the show is the scene in which King Arthur and his knights attempt to penetrate a French castle and are met by a bombastic insult-hurling Frenchman, played by Colin Pazik. Like his counterpart in the film, Pazik's Frenchman speaks in a cartoonishly exaggerated French accent and steals the scene by heaving a barrage of nonsensical insults at King Arthur and his men, ending in the catapulting of a stuffed cow at Patsy. It's as bananas as it sounds.

Blackfriars Theatre's production of "Spamalot" is irreverent, absurd, deliciously British, and wildly funny. You'll toggle between laughing and asking yourself "wait, am I allowed to laugh at this?" It's playing until September 25th, for tickets and more information click here.

Regional Awards

From This Author - Colin Fleming-Stumpf

Colin Fleming-Stumpf is a lover of all things theatre and performing arts. A native of Rochester, Colin has acted on stages across Western New York and is active in the local theatre community as a... (read more about this author)

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