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Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Published: Friday, 7/18/2014

CULTURE SHOCK

Monty Python and the Holy Frail

BY KIRK BAIRD
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Reunions are a funny thing.

We pine for our favorite disbanded groups and retired performers to come back to us, and then complain when they do.

They’re too old. Too slow. And my favorite: They’re only doing it for the money. Because glory years are always pure in motivation and never tainted by financial gain.

I blame the powerful prejudices of biased memories and dewy-eyed nostalgia, which combine to cloud judgments of what was and alter perceptions of what is.

Getting the band back together only exacerbates this phenomenon of ignoring the reality of age and change. That’s a truth we are unwilling to accept in those we grew up with.

Like a twisted version of Dorian Gray, we are more tolerant of gray hairs in the mirror than on those who represent our eternal youth.

Certainly that was the reaction earlier this year to the “gang’s all here” announcement that original cast Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) were joining a younger crew in the latest Star Wars film. Snarky online stories made sure to include non-flattering photos of the acting trio to remind us that our intergalactic heroes from a long time ago were just that: from a long time ago.

It only got worse when Ford, who turned 72 on Sunday, was injured on set by a falling door, breaking his leg. Never mind that the actor is in better shape than most of us.

More recently, it’s Monty Python that’s been the subject of such scrutiny. The famed British comedy group that created and defined a style of intelligent, edgy, and barbed humor on TV and film for three decades, reunited on stage this month for a series of 10 shows in London’s O2 arena.

Monty Python Live (Mostly) will be simulcast live in theaters nationwide, including 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Franklin Park 16, 5001 Monroe St., and Fallen Timbers 14, 2300 Village Dr. in Maumee, with encore showings at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. The R-rated stage show of famous Python skits and musical numbers runs 180 minutes and tickets are $18 for adults, $17 for students and seniors, and $16 for children.

If you’re a Monty Python fan — as I am — the opportunity to see the troupe in what is billed as their final performance ever is priceless.

And, yes, considering their average age is 72.2, this is probably it for the surviving members of the group: John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, and Eric Idle; the group’s other original member, Graham Chapman, died of throat cancer in 1989 at the age of 48.

The reviews have been mostly favorable, generally noting that the members are slower and not so spry, but deliver a show sure to please their fans.

I’ll be there Sunday (shameless plug: look for my review in The Blade and toledoblade.com) in what I hope to be my best Python voice and smiling and laughing at skits I can recite from memory.

Monty Python helped shape my teenage and college years in the 1980s and 1990s. Decades later, we’re both grayer and less shapely.

As John Cleese said, “The response to our planned reunion has been very, very silly. But we’re all touched that so many fans still want to see such old people perform.”

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.



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