When the once in a lifetime opportunity to see Monty Python at The O2 arose, SuperBreak’s Christine couldn’t refuse! Read all about her evening watching the iconic surreal comedy group live on stage right here…
I had wanted to visit The O2 arena in London for a long time, but had always been put off because I have mobility problems and didn’t think I would be able to cope with getting around London. However, when Monty Python announced their farewell shows (One Down Five To Go) nothing was going to stop me being there. And I am happy to say that it was well worth the effort!
Once I’d got my hotel and train reservations sorted by Superbreak, I arranged mobility assistance direct with Grand Central and was met on arrival at the station and helped onto the train. My brother David and I had decided to travel first class and I have to say the comfy seats and endless supply of free coffee & biscuits were very welcome. We were met at Kings Cross station and again, my assistance to get off the train was waiting for me and we were escorted down to the taxi rank.
We had arrived in London at 4.30pm so, conscious of the lack of time we had left ourselves, we decided that instead of rushing to our hotel we would go direct to the venue. I rang the Travelodge Excel Centre just to make them aware we would be checking in very late but it wasn’t a problem as their reception is open 24/7.
The taxi was an extravagance, but I wasn’t confident of using the London Underground in rush hour as I use a crutch to walk. The taxi cost us £45, but bearing in mind what a relaxing journey it was, the distance we travelled and the traffic, we both felt it was well worth it. The taxi cabs are very easy to access and all have wheelchair ramps – and the drivers we had during our visit were very pleasant and helpful.
I was really excited when we arrived. The O2 is pretty stunning! There are quite a lot of food and drink outlets on the way in to the venue too.
The view from our seats were amazing and I know everyone else visiting for the first time was as impressed as I was. It is definitely worth getting there early to take advantage of The O2 facilities and enjoy hot dogs, pizzas and burgers. As you would expect in this type of venue, they are quite pricey, but the portions are generous.
My brother and I grew up with Monty Python, so I think we knew every line of every sketch. Although the Pythons are all over 70 years old, their delivery and comic timing are still spot on. It was a pretty energetic performance too! The show itself was a mix of comic sketches, big production numbers, and archive film which was used effectively during scene changes.
It’s hard to say what my “best bits” were but The Lumberjack Song was always my favourite, and you can’t beat a bit of Spam complete with a full ensemble of dancing Vikings. There were a few guest performances too, with one particular clip starring Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking bringing the house down. Our guest star in the Blackmail sketch was the comedian Bill Bailey – it was quite ironic that Michael Palin asked him to keep it clean because of children in the audience given the content of a lot of the other sketches and the outfits worn by the dancers! Terry Gilliam’s graphics worked spectacularly in the large arena setting and he also joined in with many of the sketches, largely taking parts originally played by the late and sadly missed Graham Chapman. There was lots of opportunity for audience participation with sing-a-longs and the evening ended with the inevitable rousing rendition of “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life”.
I’ve never seen an audience react in such a way at the end – we all knew this would be one of the last times that the Pythons would perform together, so we knew we had all seen something very special. I am so pleased that I was there to pay homage to the kings of surreal comedy. It was nice as well that the ” One Down”, Graham Chapman, was not forgotten albeit with typical Python irreverence.
We waited in the suite for half an hour after the show to let the crowds die down but we were pleasantly surprised at how brilliantly The O2 staff organised the underground and taxi queues and we were at our hotel within 30 minutes of leaving the venue.
The Travelodge London Excel Centre is about 7 miles from The O2 and the taxi cost us £25. It’s a new build so the rooms are modern and it offers great value for those on a budget. The cafe was still open when we arrived and there are drinks machines in the corridors. There is also a hot “all you can eat” breakfast available for a reasonable £7.65 but we decided to have a lie in and grab something to eat at the station as sadly we had to head straight home the following morning.
I decided to brave the underground going back, so we walked the short distance to Royal Albert and got the DLR back into central London and then the tube back to Kings Cross. Some of the underground stations are now fully wheelchair accessible and have lifts (but not all) and these are clearly marked on the tube maps. Other stations that haven’t been refurbished still have the long steep escalators which I must admit that I struggled with.
On arrival at Kings Cross we headed to Prezzo and had a bacon and egg ciabbata each. They were freshly made and were a bargain at £3.25. Again, my mobility assistance was ready and waiting for me and they made sure that I got to my seat OK as the train was fully booked with people heading up to the Tour de France (or Tour de Yorkshire as we called it up here).
So, would I go back to London and the O2? Absolutely!
Will you be lucky enough to see Monty Python live on stage at The O2 Arena? Tell us about your experience by using the comments field just below.