WARNING: This production may contain naughty bits.
Running until 15 October 2011
Tickets: Hampstead Theatre Box Office
Talking of not getting it, Franklin, played by Issy van Randwyck, did a brilliant job of just not understanding what Python was about—at all. She blatantly misses the whole Python premise (reminds me of my ex!) and it's hilarious to watch.
Judge Lasker (played by Matthew Marsh whom I last saw on the set of Chancer many moons ago) was another memorable character. The author, Steve Thompson, has given Lasker such an unexpected, loveable, informal personality for a judge and a wry sense of humour: "I like my waffles with banana. How about you guys?" Keeping it legal, the other character which stood out for me was Python's lawyer, Osterberg (Clive Rowe). He is larger than life and fun. I can't find any one line that conveys his character so you'll have to take my word for it. Better still, go and see No Naughty Bits for yourself. I had a chance to ask Steve Thompson whether the appearance and personalities of the characters (other than Palin and Gilliam) were based on reality. "Not a jot" was the jist of his answer. To demonstrate the point, he told me that in real life, Osterberg was a small white guy!
As for Palin and Gilliam, my worries that someone else playing them would not be as good as the real Pythons got quashed a long time ago—after seeing my first performance of Spamalot. Harry and Sam did great and were very believably Palin and Gilliam. On press night, I had a balcony seat that gave me a clear view of where Terry Gilliam and Nancy Lewis-Jones were sitting. (Nancy, one of the characters in the play, in real life is married to Simon Jones of Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy fame, plus Blackadder, Brazil, 12 Monkeys, and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life). It was a surreal experience to be able to watch Terry and Nancy both in the audience and on stage, and to see how they were reacting to lines their younger selves were saying!
All the Pythons get mentioned in the script but I felt something special was going on with respect to Graham. Perhaps, as a result of being a life-long Python fan, I felt his spirit was very much present even though his character was not in the play: Firstly, the line from which the title of the play is taken—"Joseph Michael Montgolfier went on to wash his torso, his legs and his... er, naughty bits" from a Series 4 Python episode—was Graham's line; and the fact that No Naughty Bits is playing in the Hampstead Theatre reminds me of Graham. In fact, every time I hear the word "Hampstead," I am reminded of Graham because the reversal sketch in which he plays a writer, dressed as a miner, was played in the TV news reports of his death: “Hampstead wasn't good enough for you was it? You had to go poncing off to Barnsley. You and your coal-mining friends.” Lastly, the script includes a reference to the "Face the Press" sketch in which Graham appears as the Minister for Home Affairs wearing a pink dress.Yes, you guessed it—the "high-pitched whine" line that has made it to the play, was Graham's.
What's my favourite scene? It's where Gilliam, Palin and Osterberg read through a sketch in court at the request of the judge who says in response to Fried's objection to the read through: "I'm not doing this for my amusement...although I am amused." This Python sketch in fact is recommended viewing before you see the show:
so is this!