Spike at Malvern Theatres - Review

Spike at Malvern Theatres - Review


Posted 2022-09-14 by Alison in Birmingham follow

Tue 13 Sep 2022 - Sat 17 Sep 2022

The new play by Private Eye colleagues Ian Hislop and Nick Newman charts the early days of comedian Spike Milligan, during the time he starred and wrote countless episodes of the hugely influential BBC radio comedy, The Goon Show.

Milligan curated the manic silliness, which was further amplified by fellow Goons, Harry Secombe and Peter Sellers - very often in spite of the perplexed BBC top brass. That was to the delight of listeners around the country, still recovering from the Second World War, as Milligan was himself. The play blasts from the comparatively cosy brown BBC radio theatre to the bangs and chaos of the front line, and in the midst, shows Spike's failure to resist a gag even in the face of such horror. This was perhaps a coping mechanism which he used until his death in 2002.

The play touches upon Milligan's mental health issues, his breakdown following a disastrous gig in Coventry for instance. However, it does not linger on them as I suspect Newman and Hislop wanted to keep things light and director Paul Hart wanted to maintain the breezy momentum.

Instead it revels in the absurdity and silliness of the Goon Show scripts and that is no bad thing. Robert Wilfort is an imposing presence as Spike and although he does not share a resemblance, he captures the comedian's cheekiness and emotional vulnerability.

The support from Patrick Warner and Jeremy Lloyd as Sellers and Secombe respectively is flighty and fun, but more focus on their camaraderie and chemistry would have been welcome.The introductions by the Foley artist, Janet (played by Margaret Cabourn-Smith) as she demonstrated how various sounds are created proved to be a charming reminder of the joy of radio.

The ingenious staging kept you in the moment and sufficiently recreated the period. The jokes are frequent and funny enough to avoid the 'tears of a clown, troubled genius' clich├ęs. If you are a Milligan obsessive (they do exist), you may be yearning the unpredictable, subversive, anarchic side of his comedy persona. But if you have scant or no knowledge of the man himself, you couldn't ask for a more fun and touching tribute to a unique comedy mind.

RATING:& #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9734 ;

There are still tickets available for this hilarious new play at Malvern Theatres on until Saturday (September 17), available from the Box Office on 01684 892277 or online at Malvern-theatres.co.uk.

#theatre -reviews
!date 13/09/2022 -- 17/09/2022
70750 - 2023-01-26 01:49:06


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