Say what? No, it’s not What About Bob? and it’s not as shameless as you think. Or at least, not as shameless as you’ve heard. It’s Eric Idle’s follow up to the award-winning Spamalot production, entitled very drolly What About Dick? Eric Idle, of course, is the driving force behind all of Monty Python’s recent activity. Along with Neil Innes and Idle, he also created the music behind Spamalot, as well as other Python productions, like the film Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and the stage production of Not the Messiah.
Eric Idle describes the production as a “comedy writer’s wet dream”, as he has assembled quite an impressive cast. Comedy superstar Russell Brand plays Dick, a philosopher and gynecologist, while veteran TV performer Tracey Ullman plays Aunt Maggie. Jane Leeves of Frasier fame plays his cousin Emma, and Sophie Winkleman plays his sister Helena. Tim Curry (who’s played every British psychopath you’ve ever seen) shows up as Reverend Whoopsie and Billy Connolly plays Inspector McGuffin.
Though the show is imagined as a radio play (with actors reading from scripts), it is much more sinister than polite comedy. Idle describes the production as “Oscar Wilde on acid, or like Downton Abbey, only even funnier.” One can only imagine the comic potential here, as Python scribe Eric has a gift for intellectual gags, not to mention cheap one liners–nudge nudge, wink wink. If the cast doesn’t sound promising enough, then consider the plot: the story begins with the birth of the personal vibrator, invented in Shagistan in 1898 by Deepak Obi Ben Kingsley (played by Eddie Izzard), and then tells the tale of how the British Empire declined shortly after. If that’s too hard to follow, then consider the entire story is witnessed through the eyes of a piano.
Wait don’t call the Colonel yet. As silly as this may seem, Eric Idle’s musical is a splendid follow-up to Spamalot. Eight new songs are included in What About Dick? and Idle himself shows up as the voice of the narrator. If you have been going through Spamalot withdrawals this bizarre production is just what you need to feel complete again. Like a complete fool perhaps, but complete nonetheless. Come experience the merriment in person!