THE HOLY GRAIL: Spamalot breaks down many barriers, including inviting audience members to sit amidst the madness on stage.
THE HOLY GRAIL: Spamalot breaks down many barriers, including inviting audience members to sit amidst the madness on stage.

Savour full Monty genius

MONTY Python's Spamalot is "anarchic, fun, irreverent, rule-breaking and silly" and the Central Coast is invited to join in the madness at the Art House Wyong from March 26-28.

The description comes from director Richard Carroll, who grew up watching Python in England and says his production is "a completely joyous, inclusive party where we all tell this story together".

That includes some audience seating actually on stage.

Spamalot is based on 1975's Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which went against every accepted convention of film and society to become a shock hit and, over the next 45 years, a cult classic.

The story is very loosely based on the legend of King Arthur and his quest to find the grail - the cup that Jesus drank from at the Last Supper and in which his blood was collected at crucifixion.

Richard said Spamalot included Holy Grail's most famous (or infamous) quotes, while wrapping in elements of the other movies including Life of Brian's Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, and "taking the mickey out of musical conventions".

Richard said his production, which had a sell-out run in Sydney last year, is on "a more intimate scale", with a cast of just eight taking on numerous roles in the fashion of the original Monty Python team.

That band of John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Michael Palin last month lost the fifth member, Terry Jones, to dementia, and Richard said he was considering how to honour him within the show.

In his tribute, British comedian Stephen Fry said: "Farewell, Terry Jones: the great foot has come down to stamp on you …

"My god what pleasure you gave, what untrammelled joy and delight.''

Richard said this production of Spamalot was "really bringing it back to its Monty Python roots, so it's very silly in terms of both design and performance, with a homemade spirit, crazy wigs and accents''.

However, at not even 40 himself, Richard is a clear example that Python comedy transcends the generations, which he puts down to its rule-breaking, over-the-top absurdity.

As for those 38 audience members on stage each night, Richard said there was nothing to fear.

"It's the best experience of the show, no one who has those seats regrets it," he encouraged.

The show's stars include Marty Alix (In The Heights), Blake Appelqvist (Dorian Gray, American Psycho), and Cramer Cain (ABC's The Straits) but careful viewing of the promotional material also includes a special thanks to Magda Szubanski.

"She won't be at the theatre, but she does make an appearance," Richard said, giving nothing away.

Tickets to Spamalot at The Art House are $72 adults, $65 concession, $55 on stage and, in an interesting appeal to younger audiences, $48 for under-30s. Go to www.thearthouse or phone 4335 1485.

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