John Cleese has announced his plans to chop the song Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life from a stage adaptation of Monty Python’s classic Life Of Brian. The adored conclusion to the comedy film sees false prophet Brian and his disciples singing a jolly song while being crucified.
However Cleese, 83, informed The Mail on Sunday that the ending was now too “predictable”, saying: “It was shocking in 1979. It was absolutely astonishing.
“People thought it was hilarious, they screamed with laughter. Well, nobody is going to be shocked now – the joke is 40 years old.”
The crucifixion song is not the only thing on the cutting room floor, as Cleese, who has been working on producing the new stage version for three years, will also axe a “Romans Go Home”, graffiti scene originally written in Latin due to the language being so seldom taught in schools.
But he pledged to ensure that a male character who is teased after revealing he wants to be a mother will remain, regardless of worries that it could cause backlash from transgender activists.
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Fellow Python Eric Idle, who authored Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, is believed to be displeased that his song will no longer feature in the show, which is said to debut in the West End next summer.
Idle, 80, revealed in a tweet recently that he had no involvement with the show, which has triggered speculation that he and Cleese have had a fall out.
Cleese said last night: “Eric is very keen to use the song because of course he gets all the royalties from it, and we don’t get any.
“People do love the song but do we want to end with something that’s completely predictable?”
Cleese disclosed that his ideas had been shared with his fellow Pythons, however they were not all best pleased with the proposed alterations.
He said that he and Sir Michael Palin had a “friendly disagreement” over dinner last week, revealing: “Michael liked the first half of the new script but was dubious about the changes that I had made in the second half.
“So we talked about that and I explained what I was trying to do.
“He said he felt that the audience would expect a more similar ending and I thought to myself, “When did Python do things that the audience expected?” The answer is not very much.”
Cleese, who co-wrote and co-starred in the film alongside Sir Michael, Idle, Terry Gilliam, Graham Chapman and Terry Jones, also said he was yet to complete the script.
He explained: “I listen to everyone and then I think about it long term and make up my own idea at the end of that.”
However the fan favourite Romans Go Home scene which poked fun at the manner in which Latin was taught in schools at the time will definitely not make it to the show.
In the scene, Cleese, as a Roman soldier, catches Chapman, playing Brian, writing “Romanes Eunt Domus” (Romans Go Home) on the walls of the city, but instead of seizing him, the soldier instead patronises him on his poor Latin grammar.
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Cleeses thinks it will be hard work to recreate on stage and may fall upon deaf ears when performed to a modern audience as a result of Latin no longer being on the school curriculum.
He said: “Everybody loves the Latin scene but 40 years ago people knew a bit more about learning Latin at school. They wouldn’t know what it was now.”
Cleese also disclosed that the beginning of the script had been changed to a “wonderful opening” authored by Palin 40 years ago which was never used.
But he made it clear that Stan, a revolutionary who wishes to be a woman and a mother named Loretta, will remain in the stage version.
Stan says in the scene: “It’s my right as a man. I want to have babies. It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.”
Reg, Cleese’s character, dissents by saying that men cannot have babies because they do not have a womb.
Despite concerns it may cause backlash from a modern audience, Cleese said the scene would remain.
He said: “When we’d had a read-through in New York with very good, very experienced actors, they were unanimous and told me I wasn’t able to do it.
“There were predictions that we would run into trouble. But the Python fans over the years are not on the whole overlapping with the woke community.
“I have every intention of doing it. I am going to keep it. But I thought their reaction was interesting.”
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