Monty Python live: a 'lazy' show that will still make fans happy

Jul 2, 2014

Reviewers react to the first live reunion of the ground- breaking comedy team since 1980

Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

The five surviving members of TV sketch troupe Monty Python, all now in their seventies, have reunited and made their motive for re-forming part of the joke. And if they wanted a payday, they got ten: last night, the vast O2 arena was full for the team's first live show since 1980 and nine more sold-out shows lie ahead.

The Guardian explains that the show was "a golden-oldie recapitulation of their greatest hits, padded out with song 'n' dance ensemble numbers from a chorus young enough to be the Pythons' grandchildren".

So, was it any good? For The Independent's John Walsh, the answer is a resounding "no". Though he was a fan "from the start" and it pains him to say it, this is a "desperately lazy production, resting on its laurels, uninterested in showcasing new material".

The frequent video-screen inserts of footage from the original TV series annoy Walsh. While "some of the old sketches are still very funny", he wonders why "have we been dragged to O2 at vast expense to watch material you can find on DVD?"

But some reviewers are more charitable to the quintet of septuagenarians. "They've still got it (just)," concludes the Daily Telegraph's, Dominic Cavendish. For him, "the joyous reprise of skits like Four Yorkshiremen, Nudge Nudge and Spanish Inquisition made you grasp what all the fuss was about".

While the "poignant" truth is that "sic transit gloria Monty" - Cleese sounds hoarse, Terry Jones needs cue cards and all five sometimes look a little lost - "none of that really mattered", Cavendish says.

The "rickety geriatric gang" was greeted with "mass ecstasy", says The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw - and that's really the point. This show won't make any converts, "but it sends the faithful away happy".

Bradshaw confesses to feeling "lachrymose" just at the sight of the five together on stage again. While John Cleese "isn't quite match fit" - with more of a belly than the others and his once-rapid delivery slowing - sometimes "we saw the old Cleese".

Stand-up comedy website Chortle caters to an audience who are predominately too young to have been converted by the original Monty Python shows - though they may well have watched the team's films.

Chortle says the Pythons have "transcended comedy" to become "an event". But, it concludes: "Too infrequently did they exert themselves [last night] or even seem like they were genuinely enjoying it.

"The show does the least of what's expected of it, but rarely even tries to offer more - which is a shame."

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