Please take into consideration that this review is of a first preview.
Steve Thompson, who wrote the brilliant Roaring Trade, as well as numerous episodes of shows ranging from Sherlock to Silk, returns with latest offering No Naughty Bits at the Hampstead Theatre. It's the story of Monty Python's battle with American network channel ABC back in 1975, when they tried to censor the Pythons' work before broadcast. The network and the comedians end up in a court battle in New York, trying to sort it all out.
This isn't exactly revelatory work for Thompson but it is fairly funny and well written, though there is the occasional clunky moment as we move between scenes. The humour ranges from explanations of Monty Python jokes to your typical groan-worthy lowest common denominator gag. The wonderful Harry Hadden-Paton is already doing exquisite work as Michael Palin, giving a full sense of the man without copying Palin's behavioural tics too much, making the part his own. Meanwhile, Matthew Marsh practically steals the show as the amused judge who presides over the Pythons' trial. If only all judges were able to snap out the one-liners with such ease.
The others all do fine work, particularly Issy van Ryndwyck as an American TV executive, but excluding van Ryndwyck, there's a strong need to work on American accents - Sam Alexander as Terry Gilliam is the worst offender, veering repeatedly into far more English territory as the show wends its way onwards. While we're on the subject of niggles, hopefully a few more performances will iron this out, but the lighting was a bit all over the place, as were the stage management crew, who tried to be fast, but often blundered past in the semi-light, drawing more attention to themselves than is necessary.
Overall, fun, but not fantastic. Some knowledge of Monty Python would be good before you go in, but not necessary. Oh, and No Naughty Bits? Just wait until the end...