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The Goon Show at New Alexandra Theatre Review

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
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Surreal comedy comes alive in stage show of radio classic
They were the inspiration for much of the comedy that we've seen and enjoyed over the last 60-odd years. So, what a delight to see the combined talents of The Goons back together again, in spirit at least. The Goon Show is a live stage production created by the award-winning Apollo Theatre Company who recently toured the UK with their 50th anniversary homage to Round The Horne. This time it is the turn of another classic BBC radio favourite to be given the Apollo treatment, with the production of The Goon Show which has been deliberately timed to celebrate writer and comedy genius Spike Milligan's centenary year.

The Goon Show
Colin Elmer (left) as Spike Milligan, Julian Howard McDowell (centre) as Peter Sellers and Clive Greenwood (right) as Harry Secombe


The original The Goon Show ran on what was then called the BBC Home Service for almost a decade, starting in 1951 when the end of the Second World War was still fresh in many people's minds, and finishing in 1960. It made stars of the three main comedians that made up the Goons, with the eccentric genius Milligan joined in the studio by Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe, who went on to become almost better known as a singer. Apollo Theatre give the unenviable task of recreating the combined talents of The Goon Show in 2018 to Colin Elmer, who portrays Milligan, Clive Greenwood as Secombe, and Julian Howard McDowell, who also directs this stage production, as Sellers - later to become a film star in movies such as The Pink Panther series.

The Goon Show
'Spike Milligan' waxes lyrical looked on by Sellers and Secombe in the stage production of The Goon Show


The live stage show, which I saw at the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham as part of its nationwide tour, was comprised of three actual episodes of the classic radio series. They were 'The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler of Bexhill-on-Sea' and 'The Phantom Head Shaver of Brighton', both from series five, plus 'Tales of Men's Shirts' from series 10. Each of the episodes served up the legendary, surreal characters that made The Goon Show such a success, with Sellers providing the voice for Major Dennis Bloodnok, Henry Crun, and the still hilarious Bluebottle, among others, Secombe mainly delivering the voice of Ned Seagoon, and Milligan giving us the likes of Eccles, Count Jim Moriarty and Minnie Bannister. Other diverse characters ranged from working-class Cockney, Willium Cobblers, to Little Jim, voiced by Milligan, who had only one line - the famous "He's fallen in the water" which drew the biggest laugh from the Birmingham audience along with Bluebottle's utterances. The line-up, who combined on an encore of the very silly 'Ying Tong Song', was completed by Tom Capper as BBC announcer Wallace Greenslade and Rachel Davies and Anthony Coote, aka Java Jive, who provided the music and sound effects.

The Goons
The original Goons - Spike Milligan (left), Peter Sellers (centre), Harry Secombe (right). By Source, Fair use,https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20513230


Rating: 4 out of 5

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Why? Pure Comedy Gold Restored Live On Stage
When: September 18
Where: New Alexandra Theatre, Suffolk Street Queensway, Birmingham B5 4DS
Cost: Tickets from 19.40
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