The revolving portcullis at Castle Camelot has struck again, with comic actor Sanjeev Bhaskar becoming the final King Arthur of the show’s London run.
It is clear from the outset that neither singing nor dancing are Bhaskar’s strengths, but he adequately compensates with a sense of comic timing and a taste for the absurd that are just what the role requires. While he is physically towered over by his cohort of knights and Andrew Spillet’s faithful squire Patsy, Bhaskar succeeds in ensuring that his Arthur still dominates regally.
In a cast where everyone is clearly having a blast, Nina Soderquist stands out in her role as the Lady in the Lake. Any role delivering so many pastiches of musical theatre cliches only works if it is delivered by someone who reveres the genre, and Soderquist patently fits the bill.
Plotwise, Spamalot’s rampage through the greatest scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (plus a few bits from other Python sources) works best when it doesn’t try to deviate too strongly from the original source material. Indeed, the weakest part of the whole show comes with the bizarre second act song about how West End shows won’t work without Jews. It’s an aphorism that may have more relevance to the show’s Broadway roots, but here it just manages to feel slightly offensive without having enough humour to justify itself.
When the jokes come as thick and fast as Eric Idle’s script, though, even the occasional misfire can be forgiven.
Reviewed for The Stage