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And now for something completely different [Aug. 13th, 2014|10:03 pm]
Before I was so delightfully diverted, I was meaning to post about the Monty Python reunion which we saw via a "live" link at the Gala Theatre. I use inverted commas because, although there was nothing in the publicity to indicate this, what we saw must have been a recording. The Gala had the show on twice, and the first one, showing in the cinema, was on July 20th, the actual last night of the reunion show's run - by the time we were buying tickets it was sold out. We went instead to the later show in the theatre, which was effectively a film of the show. I don't suppose we lost much by this: I've posted before about being immune to the charm of the live link, and not feeling any sense of occasion that I wouldn't have got from watching an ordinary film. Still, I thought it was naughty.

Then again, we probably got a better deal than people who really did see the show live at the O2: we saw the Pythons close up and direct, whereas in the Arena you'd have seen tiny distant figures, their actions relayed on screens - when, that is, you weren't just watching extracts from the original shows displayed on the big central screen. So for much of the time we were looking directly at something that the theatre audience were watching on screens - and at times the camera pulled back so that we could watch them watching it on screen. Very meta.

I hadn't expected the inclusion of film from the original shows: I suppose it allowed them to bring in material they couldn't reproduce live - stuff not only written but also performed by Graham Chapman, and some very messy slapstick (not mutually exclusive categories) plus Terry Gilliam's animations. At the opposite extreme, nor had I expected the opening out into the big musical numbers, and I thought these worked rather well. You couldn't expect John Cleese to go through the physical contortions he achieved as a younger man in the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch, so it was ingenious to convert it into a dance routine, a clever elaboration on an original that you could take as read. The inclusion of guest stars, though, was a step too far into showbiz glitz. You might get away with having non-canonical performers simply taking rôles in existing sketches, but the heavy signalling of 'look, guest star!' was pretty lame (nothing against Eddie Izzard, except that I thought he deserved better). Good to see Carol Cleveland's standing in the team acknowledged, though.

And the best of the sketches stand up well. The parrot sketch is still a joy: Michael Palin's stubborn denial of the obvious drives John Cleese's exasperated rationalism into wilder and wilder flights of language, in a brilliant demonstration of the how far the English language will go to avoid talking directly about death: "This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet Dt Chapman! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!!"

It's a fine note to go out on.

From: cmcmck
2014-08-14 02:25 pm (UTC)
Saw them do the parrot sketch live at Drury Lane a zillion years back.

'Vis vis the metabolic processes, 'e's 'ad 'is lot.

E's fuckin' snuffed it!!'
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2014-08-14 03:03 pm (UTC)
That's the sort of venue where it would be worth seeing them live...
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