We Eat Ham and Jam and Spam-a-lot!!!
It was a fantastic evening. We took the Metro into DC, actually to the station located right below Bobby's office. He didn't like that part of it much, but the rest of the night made up for it, I hope!
We started out with dinner at Elephant and Castle, a British restaurant and pub about two blocks from the theatre. E&C is one of the World Cup headquarters in DC, so we got to eat our (delicious) supper while watching the France vs. Switzerland game on a big flat-screen TV. I asked Bobby, "Did you pick this place because you knew they'd have the World Cup on?"
"No! Of course not!" he said, then paused and added, "Maybe...." But of course, he knew that I didn't mind, being a bit of a World Cup nut as far as Americans go. (Though we will not mention the US game against Czechoslovakia the other day. Repeat: will not.)
The food was delicious: Dawn had onion soup to start, mushroom ravioli, and a Guinness to drink. (My motto when it comes to beer: If it looks the same going in as it does coming out, I don't want it. The darker the better!) Bobby had corn chowder to start, shepherd's pie, and a Newcastle Brown Ale. We shared a Big Ben brownie sundae for dessert. (I, of course, criticized the vanilla ice cream but thought the caramel was great...though not quite as good as mine! ;^D)
By the time the meal was finished, it was a half-hour before showtime, so we crossed the street to the National Theatre. It was my first time at the National Theatre, and I love going to the old theatres, before architecture and design was all so linear and stark. I told Bobby, as we sat in our seats, that the place looked like being inside of a wedding cake, and he gave me a startled look and said, "You're right!" We had gotten our seats very last-minute, just before they sold out, so we ended up with "partial view," meaning the little balcony boxes on the side. So if we leaned back in our seats, we might have a bit of railing or lighting blocking our view, but we had chairs (versus fold-down seats) and lots of leg room, so it actually ended up quite nice. My complaint with many places is that--after paying upwards of $75 per ticket--they pack you in like sardines. Watching my 6'3" husband fold himself into those little chairs is never pleasant. If I am uncomfortable (at 5'7"), I can't imagine what he must be feeling!
The show was simply wonderful! I remarked to Bobby afterwards that it was really a nice balance for me: There were a lot of lines and scenes borrowed directly from the movie. But there was new stuff too, and the storyline was not exactly the same, so it is not as though we payed seventy bucks to see a bunch of goofy guys doing movie quotes up on a stage. Heck, that pretty much describes any long car-trip that Bobby, Potter, and I take! (Though, with gas prices the way they are, that costs about seventy bucks too.) The lines that really matter, that everyone knows, that made the movie famous, they kept the same, even with much the same style in speaking them. So during the taunting by the French knight, for example, he farted in their general direction, called their mother a hamster and proclaimed that their father smelt of elderberry, and did all the lines that had the audience roaring with laughter before they were even fully spoken.
Some scenes, naturally, were missing, most notably the witch-hunt scene with Bedevere and the Castle Anthrax scene with Galahad. Bedevere's character, actually, was kind of pushed to the back, which surprised me since Bedevere seems much more central in the movie. Galahad was actually morphed into Dennis Galahad; one of the interesting changes was that we got to see how characters previously in the background became the knights. (Dennis became Galahad; the "bring out your dead!" guy became Brave Sir Robin; the guy attempting to dump off a not-quite-dead old man became Lancelot.)
But...I liked what was done with the characters. It added a new angle and kept even someone who has seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail a dozen times entertained like it was new.
At intermission, I hightailed it to the potty (thus discovering that the little side balconies also allow one to exit quickly in the direction of the bathrooms, without having to wait for a row of pearl-bedecked and perfume-soaked old ladies to slowly sidle into the aisle), and while I was waiting in the requisite line trailing from the women's room, the group of old ladies behind me was talking about the show. Apparently, they'd never heard of Monty Python. Well, one of them had, and she was enlightening the others. "I thought this must have been something before a musical because everyone is laughing before the actors even say anything!" the one woman said, a little scornfully. Whodda thunkit: An old theatre snob left on the outside looking in by a bunch of geeks?* Life is good.
*There was also a guy in the front balcony row who had total Napoleon Dynamite hair. It was an impressive whitefro indeed!
In true Monty Python style, there were plenty of cheesy effects: the little animated angels with trumpets, the big hand of God (whose voice was done by John Cleese), the rolling scenery background, the slow motion done with strobe lights...it was great. And there were little nods to The Flying Circus as well: The show opened with the Finland song, and "We're Knights of the Round Table" devolved into "Spam, spam, spam, spam!" at one point. At times, the show made little contemporary jokes, not enough to become annoying, but enough to be surprising. Patsy at one point admits to being Jewish. King Arthur asks, "Why didn't you say something before?"
"Pardon me, sir, for not admitting it to a large, heavily armed...Christian."
And, to cap it all off, my favorite character was in it: Tim the Enchanter. "Some call me...Tim?"
If you like the original Monty Python and the Holy Grail and you get a chance to see this, please do! It was a hilarious and entertaining two hours.