Pythonesque (4 stars)

This article is from 2009


And now for something completely different

This superb celebration of the great surrealist-absurdist comedy troupe is so much more than a straightforward homage to Monty Python. Aptly named playwright Roy Smiles has constructed a very clever narrative that’s playfully self-referential, loaded with in-jokes, and, importantly, is absolutely hilarious.

The show’s very Pythonesque conceit focuses on recently deceased Graham Chapman attempting to enter Heaven but finding he has to justify his admittance to a jobsworth in a flat cap by telling the Pythons’ story. From the team’s beginnings – when Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Jones met as Oxbridge graduates – through TV’s Flying Circus (when animator Terry Gilliam came on board) and four film outings, to its end (when Chapman died in 1989), the tale is ingeniously told using re-jigged versions of the team’s famous sketches: Cheese Shop, Parrot, Argument, Nudge-Nudge, Inquisition, Lumberjack, etc. Similarly, the comic personas of the performers are used to further the story, so that, for example, notoriously irritating motor-mouth Idle fast-talks his way through great swathes of Python history in record time.

Playing the seven Pythons between them, the cast of four are spot on with their impersonations in a show that really captures the anarchic spirit of its subject.

Udderbelly’s Pasture, 0844 545 8252, until 31 Aug 2009, 12.45pm, £10–£12.50 (£8–£10.50).


  • 4 stars

See Cleese's first audition. Hear the simpering paternalism of David Frost. Be touched by the religious furore over the 'Life of Brian'. Comprehend the true meaning of the coconuts in 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'!