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'Monty Python Live' opens in London to mixed reviews

The O2Terry JonesJohn Cleese
The reviews are in: "Monty Python Live" opens in London

The five surviving members of Monty Python reunited on Tuesday at the O2 Arena in London for a new show that includes comedy sketches, songs and other forms of the troupe's trademark silly humor.

"Monty Python Live (Mostly)" will run for only 10 performances in London but will be broadcast to cinemas around the world. The production is directed by Eric Idle, who appears on stage with John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones. (Graham Chapman died in 1989.)

The troupe announced its plans to reunite late last year and a barrage of media coverage ensued. The last time the group performed together was in 1998 at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Colorado. 

London's O2 Arena seats approximately 20,000 people, an audience capacity that the Pythons haven't seen in a long time. In the early '80s, the troupe performed at the Hollywood Bowl, which seats more than 17,000.

Dominic Cavendish of the Telegraph wrote that the Pythons "came, they doddered, but they conquered." More often than not, the live material looked "far more golden than olden, reminding us at every turn of the debt we owe them."

The Independent's John Walsh held a dissenting view, describing the show as a "desperately lazy production, resting on its laurels, uninterested in showcasing new material, relying on TV footage and the whooping adulation of an audience who know all the words." 

Ben Brantley of the New York Times referred to the abundance of video clips, writing that "a good stretch of the show is no more live than Mr. Chapman is, which is not to say that it’s dead." However, by the second act, "everybody had loosened up a bit, including the Pythons."

The Telegraph's Peter Bradshaw wrote that "not a great deal of effort has gone into updating the script." In the end, he said, the show wasn't bad: "[I]t gives the crowd exactly what they want but relies pretty heavily on the fan love and makes a hefty withdrawal from the reputation bank."

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The O2Terry JonesJohn Cleese
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