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Review: ‘Monty Python’s Spamalot’

June 19, 2013
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Need to know The “Spamalot” plot? Clearly you didn’t spend time hearing your ‘80s college pals reciting every word of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

Well, if I must: King Arthur’s quest to round up knights for his round table (here, his “very, very, very, very, very round table”) is supplanted by another, divinely ordained quest—to find the Holy Grail. His efforts to achieve that lead to a series of trials—including the acquisition of “a shrubbery” and the complete destruction of the theatrical fourth wall between players and audience.

This local theater premiere comes courtesy of producer/director Bob Harbin who, during previous summers, offered “Cabaret,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” and others at the Athenaeum.

While those had their strengths, this is the most fully satisfying of his productions thus far. Except for an amateurish wobbly castle, the show’s casual attitude never gives way to sloppiness. Theatergoers who frequent the Phoenix, the Indiana Repertory Theatre and Actors Theatre of Indiana have come to expect professional, engaging work from Charles Goad (Arthur), Paul Hansen (his unappreciated sidekick Patsy), and Claire Wilcher (the Lady of the Lake). But Harbin’s bench is deeper here than it has been in the past, with strong support mined from other companies, specifically Q Artistry Artistic Director Ben Asaykwee as the not-so-brave Sir Robin and EclecticPond’s Artistic Director Thomas Cardwell as Sir Lancelot (who, of course, likes to dance-a-lot).

And some sort of rising-to-the-occasion award should go to Pete Scharbrough as Sir Galahad. Usually in the background at Beef & Boards, Scharbrough holds his own in an in-your-face duet with Wilcher for “The Song that Goes Like This.” No easy task.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t note the contributions of Bin Faaarkrekkion, the Honni Obikkionen Singers, and the good people of Finland. (Don’t ask. Just read your program.)

For more on “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” see the June 24 issue of IBJ.

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