Monty Python’s Big (and Final) Return to the Stage
The Great British comedy act that is Monty Python is taking to the stage again – but, alas, this will be for the final time.
Monty Python first came into being in 1969, a comedy group specialising in the surreal. Despite the obviously advanced age of its members now, the group is still well loved, with fans spanning many generations and able to recite whole sketches at a time.
The group’s influence on comedy has been compared to that of The Beatles on music, their reach not only stretching from the beloved Monty Python’s Flying Circus television sketch show, but through their books, music, stage shows and films, including the likes of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life.
The surviving members of Monty Python – John Cleese (74), Terry Gilliam (73), Terry Jones (72), Eric Idle and Michael Palin (both 71) – are returning to the stage at London’s O2 Arena for their last ever series of shows, Monty Python Live (Mostly).
Their first performance saw the show opening with a classic Gilliam animation and a depiction of Graham Chapman being shot from a cannon. Chapman may have passed away from cancer at the age of 48 in 1989, but archive footage of the late Python made up part of the show so he could be there with them, to the overwhelming applause of the audience.
The Pythons reenacted some of their most famous and loved sketches, including Four Yorkshiremen, The Lumberjack Song, The Dead Parrot Sketch towards the end of the show, and closing with sing-a-long number, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.
The audience also enjoyed a surprise cameo from Stephen Fry in a new Blackmail sketch, as well as video contributions to the show from Professors Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox.
While some described the stage show as “filthy”, new material was scarce, and the audience knew the punch line to pretty much every joke, this is the Python’s closing show – loyal fans will know what to expect and leave happy, and is that not the point?
The Pythons are only reuniting for ten final performances from 1 July to 5 July and 15 July to 20 July. And while it might seem terribly sad that this will be their last, we have to remember that the quintet are now in their seventies, and in the 45 years since its conception, love for the group hasn’t been lost. It seems as if they are bidding us less of a farewell, and more of a thank you.