The on-stage John Cleese walks through the audience yelling in a thick British accent about the religious artifacts available to buy from his tray, from Easter bunnies and Hindu candy cows to Pope-on-a-roap.
So opens the latest show at the Theatre on the Bay – a tribute to 1970s Britain, and to the cast of Monty Python’s Flying Circus in particular.
As with Roy Smiles’ previous tributes (to The Goons in Ying Tong – A Walk with the Goons, and to Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in Good Evening), the 95 minute long satire is a part comedy sketch, part historical narrative. Through marvellously silly interactions we learn how John Cleese, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman and Terry Gilliam rose to become comedy icons, renowned the world over.
The Pythonesque cast is made up of South African comedy stalwarts Robert Fridjhon, Graham Hopkins, Theo Landey and Russel Savadier. The fact that there are only four of them to represent a team of six only adds to the hilarity.
A golden thread of references to old Python sketches runs throughout the evening, which is thick with dramatic wordplay, cross-dressing as old ladies (and a sexy one in a too-tight dress), plenty of double entrendes and competitively bizarre gaits. The dead parrot sketch, of course, gets resuscitated and they banter on about a budgeroo… er… a budgy, of sorts.
Indeed there are a lot of jokes that only the true Monty Python fan will appreciate. Even better if you lived in the UK in the early 70’s. But that is the point. Monty Python fans love nothing better than to meet a stranger who can also quote a particular sketch verbatim. Giggles and belly laughs are set to echo through the streets of Camps Bay for the next two weeks, as Python fans young and old indulged their love of surreal comedy.
Pythonesque runs at the Theatre on the Bay 25 March to 11 April 2015.