Friday, October 19

The Goon Show

- October 12, 2018

The Goons are a much-loved institution, the comedy forefathers of surrealism to Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Eddie Izzard and The Mighty Boosh. The same team that brought the touring show of its retro Radio 4 stablemate Round The Horne to the touring stage gathered together their own ‘Spike Milligan’, ‘Peter Sellers’ and ‘Harry Secombe’ – the original players that launched and were launched by The Goon Show – to perform three of radio comedy’s scripts, complete with musical interludes performed by foley duo Java Jive.

There was a true affection involved here, with the mimicry first class, even down to announcer and sometime performer ‘Wallace Greenslade’. However, the overall enthusiasm barrelled into us, not always allowing time for the barrage of Spike’s brilliant gags to land, and at other moments taking too long as they savoured more visual laughs.

Overall it felt a little as if I had stumbled into a fan club’s performance – loving, celebratory, but with a strong presumption of a strong familiarity with the material and characters (both created by Spike’s writing and the personas of Spike, Peter and Harry) that didn’t always hit the right pace for full enjoyment.

I add that I am familiar with the original Goons Show and share the cast’s love of it. It’s tricky transferring from radio to stage, with visual distractions distracting from the audience’s concentration on the spoken word. I’d love for those words to hit every target bang-on, just as the marvellous Spike Milligan intended.

Theatre Royal Brighton, 7 October 2018
Rating: ★★★½☆
Victoria Nangle


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