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Monty Python's Flying Circus
Mornin' After Flicks
Mr Kakushow: Japanese Crazy Sit-Down Comedy!
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2003
Monty Python's Flying Circus
John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin (with the estate of Graham Chapman) have given their permission for French artists develop Monty Python's Flying Circus for the stage - the first time ever that that the famous TV sketches have been officially produced for the theatre.
Et maintenant pour quelque chose complètement différente: Monty Python en Francaise.
Yes, it's one of those bizarre ideas that could only ever really happen at the Fringe, and yes, it does exactly what it says on the pepperpot: Fifteen Python sketches, performed in French, with subtitles flashed up on an LED display.
It's a decent selection, with some classics - The Dead Parrot Sketch, naturally, and The Four Yorkshiremen - some forgotten gems, and some that might be better left forgotten.
The team don't try to impersonate the original cast, just use their scripts. Neither do they shy away from using wordier sketches, rather than relying solely on the more visual of the Pythons' oeuvre.
But inevitably, something gets lost in the translation.
Much of the joy of the originals lies in the sounds of the words, Cleese, Palin and Co employed their over-the-top, exaggerated accents to make the most of every syllable of phrases like 'pointed stick' or 'I wish to register a complaint', and these subtleties simply don't come off in another tongue.
The parrot sketch is butchered, with the rant about the deceased pet pushing up the daisies or having joined the choir invisible cut completely, Obviously the euphemisms just don't work in French.
And sometimes the problem is with the subtitles, with the script compressed down to fit on the two-line screen meaning, again, that the joke is lost.
It's all performed with verve, though, especially the songs (including The Meaning Of Life and Sit On My Face), the Argument Clinic, and the first sketch involving mountaineers clambering across the audience to utter the immortal "It's" opening,
Unfortunately, while this should have been the cue for the unmistakable Liberty Bell theme tune, nothing actually happened. It was just the first of scores of technical glitches that blighted this opening night. Sound cues were missed, performers acted in the dark and the subtitler got to the end of The Lumberjack Song a full two verses before the performers - amateurish errors that shouldn't be happening in a show that people are paying more than a tenner to see.
But despite its flaws, this a pleasant trip down memory lane, and not just for the bilingual Python nerds.
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