Monty Python's Spamalot

Date 25th October 2023
Society Battle Amateur Theatrical Society
Venue Battle Memorial Hall
Type of Production Musical
Director Tara Buchanan
Musical Director Alex Hohenkerk
Choreographer Naomi Wareham
Written By Idle and Du Prez


Author: Anne Lawson

‘Always look on the bright side of life’  - what a wonderful message that gave and I wonder how many of the wowed audience on Wednesday woke up the next morning singing it – I know I did! It may be irreverent and perhaps raises some eyebrows in today’s climate, but this is amazingly funny and is described as a ‘new musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ from book and lyrics of  Eric Idle and John Du Prez, and was performed true to the script with fantastic results.   

An initial buzz and appreciation carried right through this electric performance with perfected comedy timing, great character casting, set design and construction A1 – sound enhanced by the good quality system now acquired, live orchestra headed by experienced Alex, strong vocals, words loud and clear, well-choreographed dance routines from Naomi rehearsed to a high standard, athletic, modern, tap, national. Costumes too first class headed by Libby Grainger joined by the experienced Sophie Ringrose, Debbie Veitch and other sources all enabling a well-dressed cast. The opening Finnish routine was a colourful spectacle albeit the wrong country! Hysterical – just one of many during the performance  - my face hurt. Rehearsals must have been great fun too.

For Tara’s design the set was adapted from the beautiful replica of Battle Abbey with twin towers and battlements for various conversations or vocals good exit and entry through the central gate effective too and the addition of a light curtain that could be drawn across by cast members as required. Comic added features were also created by Craig Gibbon and Paul Fuggle -  an overlarge killer mobile rabbit, a mountain range, a giant tin of Spam, a fine lettered collection of knightly Camelot shields to name a few. Equally well gathered were the many props including Patsy’s wonderful backpack with a strategic bog roll! Atmospheric lighting with a well-planned design was operated  by James Dean.

An extra professional feature was the introduction on screen of animation and video to introduce the cast, taking the quest from country to country in appropriate costume including Aussie surfing and enchanted snake rising from it’s basket with David Fricker using his expertise plus performing his lovable coconut clip clopping King’s aide character Patsy, his first admirable appearance with the group.

Gareth Brighton an actor and singer so versatile in his character roles was our hero throughout and together with his motley crew of Knights set out on his quest to seek and find the Holy Grail whilst we had interruptions by plagues, bodies alive and dead, fierce combat, farting Frenchmen, lovely dancing girls, monks, dubious guards, Head of the Knight of Ni and the added attraction of The Lady of the Lake, performed by another newcomer extremely talented Helen Ward-Jackson, splendidly costumed offering her huge vocal range with wonderful comedy thrown in and who of course as in all magical legends marries our hero. The production was a romp to beat all romps with quick interaction, agility, colour, humour and strong vocals. This was the first time I had experienced horsemanship on stage but maybe this type of riding should be added as a new event at Hickstead? Kind Arthur and his Knights I am sure would have a fair winning chance.

I cannot praise the company enough for their individual contributions to this musical and with the attention to detail from Director Tara the cast produced a first-rate show.