'The Sword and The Dope review' or 'Sparky knights around a blunt, round table.'

'The Sword and The Dope', Michael Horspool
Greenwich Playhouse, Friday 20th January 2012
Written for Time Out

Act-On Productions describes 'The Sword and the Dope', recently transferred from The King's Head to Greenwich Playhouse, as 'a new Pythonesque musical comedy'.

Both the Pythons and 'Sword…' writer Michael Horspool draw on the time of King Arthur and delight in diminishing noble characters and epic, historical backdrops. But the similarities end there.

The Pythons' sketches seem constantly on the verge of collapse, but they are brilliantly observed and tightly constructed. Horspool has a sharp eye for obscure details and a penchant for bizarre segues, but he lacks the Pythons' wit and rigour.

The plot is frustratingly indecipherabe which, for a kids' show, is less than ideal. Somewhere amid the mayhem and shouty songs is a story about King Arthur and his many enemies, all jostling for his kingdom. The cast are committed and their energetic charm keeps things bearable: special mention to Will Seaward's goggle-eyed Sir Percival and Jay Perry's warm singing voice.

Director Matthew Gould isolates some strong stand alone scenes, such as a spoof chat show, but he can't pull this disparate piece together.


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