Monday, July 20, 2009

Spamalot - is it appropriate for kids?

This review was originally posted after seeing Spamalot in 2009. The show will be back in town, this time at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, for a 2 week run beginning February 28th, 2012. 
 Spamalot is many things children love; it's fast paced, it's silly, there's confetti at the end (try to sit in the orchestra so some of it lands on you.) The show's source material is the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail and it's pretty close to the original - if you are a Python fan Spamalot is not to be missed. If you are a parent you should know that the show is a little dirty.  In a silly, absurdest, English sort of way. You may remember the French Guards from the film? They are here, making all kinds of creative fornicating gestures with their hands and - there's just no other way to say this - humping the castle. Yup. So, you know, how do you feel about that?

You also need to ask yourself how you feel about a knight, upon realizing that he is gay, donning a sparkly silver cod piece and dancing around like Peter Allen. That's in here too. For my 9 year old, all the sexual stuff went right over his head. The 11 year old felt like he'd been let in on a little secret. They both loved it.

There is a little bit of cartoonish violence - the Black Knight has his arms and then his legs severed by King Arthur, wonderfully voiced for our local performance at The Ahamanson by John O'Hurley, whose toung-in-cheek gravitas makes for perfect casting. Maybe this would scare your kids. My boys were not scared but it looked so real (to the youngest) and was so well done that he did need to be reassured that it was all fake. And, later, he needed to talk about it in the car and understand exactly how it had been done. There is no squirting blood either here or, later, when another knight loses his head. But it's a bit of shock, followed by a big laugh, when red streamers unfurl from the place his head used to be. Ah, the magic of theatre.

And then, of course, there's some swearing. The "Life's a piece of shit" thing. It is there is all its Python glory but it's really not terrible ( or I'm a bad mother...)

If you are a Python fan, or if you are just a fan of great big, funny, lots of singing and dancing, old fashioned Broadway- style shows, you will love Spamalot.   If you have children I hope this helps you to make your decision about what is best for your family.

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