Spamalot delights musical theatre fans

Theatre patrons who attended Monty Python’s Spamalot during opening weekend have been easy to pick out of the crowd. They are the people strolling through town with a lingering smile interrupted only by the odd snatch of whistling.

The song that will be heard in snatches throughout the end of the summer is Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, and if the intention behind it was deeply ironic, the end result is strangely more effective than an earnest “Think positive!” would be. That’s the brilliance of the Monty Python troupe, whose humour is absurd in the extreme, intellectual yet juvenile, but ultimately humanist in nature.

Salt Spring’s exitStageLeft Productions has captured Spamalot’s message and the deeply silly mode of its expression in equal measure. Company founders Jekka Mack and Christina Penhale now have a number of fully realized musicals under their belts, and have upheld their high production standards once again with their current offering. King Arthur and his knights may ride invisible horses, but they’re doing it in front of a two-story castle, through a mysterious “and very expensive” forest, and arriving home at a Camelot based in Las Vegas, where the round table is a spinning roulette wheel.

Prancing through the scenery with overblown dignity, Jeffrey Renn takes clear delight being extra silly in his role as the King of the Britons, with Patrick Cassidy anchoring his straight man as the faithful servant Patsy. Nice contrasts between the two characters come with Patsy singing Always Look on the Bright Side (an import from the film Life of Brian, which inspired full participation from Saturday’s audience). Arthur’s lament I’m All Alone meanwhile inspires eye-rolling incredulity from the servant who hasn’t yet left his side.

For more on this story, see the Aug. 30, 2017 Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper or subscribe online.

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