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Lovingly ripped off from Monty Python’s The Holy Grail, Spamalot promised to provide a hilarious afternoon’s entertainment, however, walking into Lancaster’s (ironically charmingly small) Grand theatre, I was unprepared for just how refreshing and uplifting the show would be. Having simply been offered a ticket by a friend and having admittedly completely forgotten the plot of The Holy Grail, I went in with no particular expectations. However, the Morecambe Warblers amateur acting society offered a wonderful re-telling of the story, staying true to the original motion picture’s witty script and outrageously whacky humour, yet adding brilliant new twists to the tale which had the room in stitches and prompted a well-earned standing ovation.
Chief among these was the unexpected coming out of Sir Lancelot which added a wonderful new layer to the story while also helping to update it for a 2018 audience. The play’s success was proven by the evening show being entirely booked out, an impressive achievement for an amateur production. Even with a relatively low budget, the show provided some impressive visual effects and dance routines and suitably colourful costumes to add to the appeal. Spamalot also proved one of the most impressive productions I have been to in terms of its humour, making use of the more obvious humour such as audience participation but also creating humour out of ridiculing the predictability of the play itself and its low budget as the audience was allowed to witness backstage struggles with malfunctioning props and scenery. Despite also making use of some more adult humour, however, the production managed to stay relatively family friendly and earnt many laughs from the younger members of the audience. For regular theatre goes it was easy to spot the huge talent on stage, from Emily Prescott’s unexpectedly incredible singing in the part of the Lady of the Lake to John Beamer’s interesting interpretation of the role of Sir Lancelot!
It was wonderful to see a cast who so clearly got on and meshed so well together, working as an ensemble to “boldly go where no show has ever gone before!”. As a fresher, it felt great to be supporting a local acting company in the town I’m already starting to see as home and discover what Lancaster has to offer in terms of theatre. The smaller size of the wonderful, ornately decorated old theatre definitely added to the show’s success by making the experience more intimate and the audience more involved. The production felt less out of reach and league than some more professional shows when I learnt that the warblers are looking for new members, so any budding actors on campus, this could be your opportunity for some work experience!
Overall, the show not only rekindled my apparent love of any comedy which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever… but helped me rediscover The Holy Grail and made certain I left the room with a smile on my face, still singing along to far too catchy songs, a real feel-good experience!