I'll try to be kind - an American with an attitude and no sense of humour. What a surprise. Don't give Jay Harris' review any credence whatsoever. Sophisticated cerebral humour just seems to elude some people. Audiences don't give elated standing ovations for nothing, so you decide who to trust - 5000 lucky spectators at the Royal Albert Hall, or poor humourless Jay Harris...
When I first saw that this had been produced, I feared that it would be one more try to exploit the Monty Python legacy that reached its pinnacle with The Life of Brian movie. Instead, it turned out to be a triumph, that soared, and incredibly managed to exceed the movie itself, although it could never have done so without the ground breaking, risk taking humour of the original movie.
The idea of a Life of Brian opera certainly sounds stodgy and ill-advised, and the first few numbers were perhaps a bit too low-burn, really doing nothing to set the scene or re-acquaint fans of the movie.
After that, highlights from the movie are performed magnificently, with the scoring and the lyrics working in hilarious and perfect harmony. Whilst the oratorio covers a wide range of styles, from Dob Dylan folk mumble to Mexican cantina band, it is primarily classical and operatic. Don't let that put you off though, it's not performed in pretentious style, and in fact the juxtaposition actually enhances the piece. At no time is this more brilliantly demonstrated than when Brian and Judith have sex, operatically. If that doesn't bring tears of laughter to your face, then I have serious doubts about the presence of your sense of humour. It's incredible that it can be puerile and high-brow at the same time, and that is the oratorio's incredible magic.
The piece is littered from start to finish with in jokes that Life of Brian fans will enjoy, but many pay homage to the greater Python body of work. The audience was particularly appreciative of the repeated intrusion of the lumberjack song.
Some of the key moments played out musically include:
Popular People's Front Popped by? Swarmed by more like! Brian and Judith Biggus Dickus Bwian You lucky bastard Crucifixion Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
When the original movie came out, it caused a religious outrageous amongst stuffy Christians the world over, and hopefully, this fantastic show will stick a cracker up their butts again. On the one hand, it's not actually disrespectful of the whole Jesus story, yet it manages to point out the hypocrisy of religion. My favourite lines come at the end of the piece called Hail to the Shoe, where the singers have decided that the shoe is a sign of Brian's divinity:
Hail to the Shoe. Death to those who Have different views Concerning his Shoes And while we kill him let us all pray
I'm not fortunate enough to be as well versed in classical music as Adam Wilde, so there may be even more sophisticated jokes lurking for some of you, but I know this, there has not been a movie in two decades that I watched three or four times in two days, as I have with He's not the messiah. If you're a Python fan, treat yourself to the treat of two decades!
Not the Messiah: He's a Very Naughty Boy
Comedy / Music / Musical
Tech specs720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1 hr 31 min