Some 600 years ago, at the battle of Agincourt, British forces clashed with the French in a field of mud — a carnage of superiorly armored French nobility and their horses sliding to collective death in the soggy soil. Replace the soldiers with a gaggle of comedians, singers and dancing girls, and you have the riotously uncontrolled, hysterically slippery Spamalot.
Spamalot, playing through July 7 at Actors Cabaret of Eugene (ACE), is billed as “a new musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python & the Holy Grail.” With Python alum Eric Idle handling the book, the script is a nearly verbatim take on the film, with song and dance numbers tucked in at the most iconic moments.
King Arthur (a thoughtful Ken McClintock) and the rest of his “silly English Cunigits” take off on a quest for Christ’s lost cup, meeting up along the way with such less-than-perilous adventures as a battle with the Black Knight, wise words from Tim the Enchanter, and a shrubbery-loving tête-à-tête with Knights Who Say Ni.
ACE has a delicate tightrope to walk, balancing between delivering on our collective Monty Python nostalgia and creating something completely different. Most of the cast delivers, though a few actors overreach in their ambitions to be Pythonesque. Particularly tricky is the role of the French taunter, whose lines (see headline) are as recognizable — and I’ll argue as great, in their genre — as Hamlet’s ‘to be or not to be.’ Cameron Walker flat-out kills it as the feisty Frenchman.
Diva-rific Megan Hammon delivers as the Lady of The Lake; Trevor Eichhorn shines as a not-so-brave Sir Robin. And, as the historian, Bill Furtick offers a sense of order to this chaotic piece of theater. The killer bunny is genius.
Spamalot runs June 22 through July 28 at Actors Cabaret of Eugene; actorscabaret.org or 683-4368.