Spamalot at the Kings Theatre, Southsea

Everyone's heard of Method acting and Stanislavski's System.

Monday, 8th February 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2016, 4:53 am
Spamalot performed by The Portsmouth Players. WOW247 Awards at The Kings Theatre, Southsea. Picture: Allan Hutchings

But what about ‘human surfing’?

This is how Roger Keevil describes his approach to performing in Spamalot, which comes to the Kings Theatre in Southsea on Tuesday.

Roger, 66, first played a king with the Portsmouth Players in 1993, when he was the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance.

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But he’s stepped up to play King Arthur in the Tony award-winning musical, which is based on the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Roger, 66, from Netley, says he can’t wait to play such an iconic character.

‘King Arthur is a great character from British legend, which is not absolutely taken seriously by the Python team, who themselves are British legends.’

Roger says this isn’t the only thing that’s thoroughly British about the show.

‘There’s obviously a very British sense of humour to the musical, which was itself redefined by the Pythons.

‘They converted America. Historically America never “got” British humour, but then Monty Python came along. They’re basically responsible for British comedy being a success in the States.’

It’s often said that comedy is very hard to perform – a statement that Roger agrees with.

‘You need a certain flair for comedy – a genuine connection with the audience where you can feel how they’re going to react to a joke rather than telling them what’s funny.

‘You need to gauge their reactions and ride the laughs – like human surfing I suppose.’

Spamalot is a show that’s aware of its audience, with elements of crowd participation.

In this sense, it shares similarities with another British staple – pantomime.

‘It certainly has similarities to panto,’ Roger says. ‘Both are meant to be funny, and as an actor you have to take both very seriously.

‘You have to believe in your character, even if they’re doing these silly things.’

One such example is the ‘horses’ ridden by Arthur and his court, a cross-breed of coconut shells and imagination.

But Roger says it has been a lot of fun getting in the saddle – or not, as the case may be.

‘We started rehearsals in November and it has been a voyage of discovery: there’s swordfighting and the horse-riding, which has been very strenuous!’