Knightly performances will have you rolling in the aisles

The cast of Kelso Amateur Operatic Society's production of Spamalot.
The cast of Kelso Amateur Operatic Society's production of Spamalot.
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Kelso Amateur Operatic Society’s production of Spamalot couldn’t be any better

There’s never been a better time to wheek on your suspenders and a bra and gallop over to Kelso’s Tait Hall, armed with nought but Excalibur and a working class coconut* clapper.

The massively talented members of Kelso Amateur Operatic Society are this week putting on a show which will have their audiences grinning from ear to ear throughout, broken only by the frequent bursts of hysterical laughter.

There are two types of people who will love this show – which pokes fun at other musicals, religion and the class system with equal jollity. Firstly, of course, those who love Monty Python’s extensive canon ... and those who don’t.

While there are plenty of well-known scenes and one-liners to please the hardiest fan, the way in which they are portrayed is so joyfully played by a troupe who so obviously are loving every minute of it, while still being disciplined enough to keep it as polished as King Arthur’s golden boots ... it is difficult to believe anyone would fail to enjoy it.

It’s around here where you would expect to see the reviewer gush over a particular star and how they stole the show. Not this time.

From left: Sir Dennis Galahad (Tom Lambert), Sir Robin (Ian Fairnington), Sir Lancelot (Steven Luke), Sir Bedevere (Struan Henderson) and Camelot guard Jamie Wilson.

From left: Sir Dennis Galahad (Tom Lambert), Sir Robin (Ian Fairnington), Sir Lancelot (Steven Luke), Sir Bedevere (Struan Henderson) and Camelot guard Jamie Wilson.

The whole cast gets the star billing here. Not one of the actors, singers or dancers shone less brightly than any other.

From the brilliant Rich Millan as King Arthur, to the sassy Amy Darrie as The Lady of the Lake; from Rory Bremner’s recorded voice of God in the style of Billy Connolly to Ian Fairnington, who even looks a bit like Michael Palin in his roles of Sir Robin the-not-as-brave-as-Sir-Lancelot and Brother Maynard; from Steven Luke, who manages to hold down four tricky roles in Sir Lancelot, the French Taunter (“your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries”), the Head Knight of Ni and Tim the Enchanter to Ryan Playfair, whose sole responsibility seems to have been to unicycle across the stage dressed as a vicar – but he did it twice; from Struan Henderson’s wonderful ‘not dead’ scene as Concorde to the ballet-dancing Cygnet, played by Ruby Pitman ... all could not have been better if they tried.

Alan Thomson is sheer perfection as the coconut shell-clapping Patsy, while Tom Lambert pulls off the tricky dialogue as Dennis Galahad (“Strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government! Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony”) is a delight. Jamie Wilson is fantastic as Dennis’s mother and the daft guard of Prince Herbert, while Tony Jackson also takes on multiple roles with ease, including the historian narrator, Fred who isn’t dead yet, and Prince Herbert, who breaks into song at a moment’s notice.

The dancers, who have to go through umpteen changes of clothing and perform just as many styles of dance, are fabulous, as are the backing singers and assorted Finlanders, Monks, townsfolk and French people. Even the orchestra get in on the act.

Patsy (Alan Thomson), King Arthur (Rich Millan) and The Lady of the Lake (Amy Darrie).

Patsy (Alan Thomson), King Arthur (Rich Millan) and The Lady of the Lake (Amy Darrie).

All together, it should have been chaos, but director Pooee Pitman, choreographer Avril Murray and musical director Heather Cattanach brings it all together to make KAOS work brilliantly.

Spamalot, lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail, is being performed “knightly” at the Tait Hall, Kelso, until March 25, at 7.30pm.

Tickets, £14, can be purchased from Hector Innes Photography, The Square, Kelso.

* Transported to these shores, no doubt, by a strangely migratory African swallow.

Cygnet, played by Ruby Pitman.

Cygnet, played by Ruby Pitman.

PHOTOGRAPHS: Gav Horsburgh

Spamalot cast
King Arthur – Rich Millan
Patsy, Mayor – Alan Thomson
The Lady of the Lake – Amy Darrie
Sir Robin, Brother Maynard – Ian Fairnington
Sir Lancelot, French Taunter, Head Night of Ni and Tim the Enchanter – Steven Luke
Sir Dennis Galahad, The Black Knight, Prince Herbert’s Father – Tom Lambert
Sir Bedevere, Kevin and Concorde – Struan Henderson
Historian, Not Dead Fred, Theatrical Amphibian, Camelot Knight, French Guard, Minstrel and Prince Herbert – Tony Jackson
Dennis’s Mother – Camelot Guard, Nun, Prince Herbert’s Guard – Jamie Wilson
Laker Girls/Dancers – Avril Murray, Rhianne Miller, Aimee Ferguson, Nic Horlock, Nicola Shenton and Basti Ward
Backing singers – Pooee Pitman, Mary Thomson and Julia Wailes Fairbairn
Finlanders et al – Delly Tumble, Fiona Nichol, Harriett Norriss, Molly Hawthorne, Joanne Ayling, Teresa Dorward, Susan Young, Sarah Hey, Di Baxter and Helen O’Boyle
Cygnet, Prince Herbert’s other guard and puppeteer – Ruby Pitman
Unicycling Vicar – Ryan Playfair
Voice of God – Rory Bremner

Monks and Finlanders ... don't ask.

Monks and Finlanders ... don't ask.

Backing singers Pooee Pitman, Mary Thomson and Julia Wailes Fairbairn.

Backing singers Pooee Pitman, Mary Thomson and Julia Wailes Fairbairn.

The Lady of the Lake (Amy Darrie) in full 'aqautic bint' mode, with the Laker Girls Rhianne Miller, Nic Horlock, Nicola Shelton, Avril Murray, Aimee Fergusson and Basti Ward.

The Lady of the Lake (Amy Darrie) in full 'aqautic bint' mode, with the Laker Girls Rhianne Miller, Nic Horlock, Nicola Shelton, Avril Murray, Aimee Fergusson and Basti Ward.

Prince Herbert (Tony Jackson) with Sir Lancelot (Steven Luke).

Prince Herbert (Tony Jackson) with Sir Lancelot (Steven Luke).