In Spike Milligan’s centenary year Apollo Theatre Company set-out to create the experience of attending a recording of the Goon Shows with their latest production. Despite never having been to such a recording, it seems to me they have succeeded admirably.
Three Goon Shows are recreated, with live sound effects, musical interludes and announcer Wallace Greenslade all in-tow. The vocal stylings of the various characters in the shows are well-known to many and are still to be heard now on Radio 4 Extra each week. So inevitably with shoes like Peter Sellers’ to fill it’s a big ask to re-create these. But for the most part the cast do so hugely successfully. We have Bluebottle, Throat, Willium ‘Mate’ Cobblers, Eccles, Neddy Seagoon and more. Particularly effective are Major Bloodnock and Henry Crun and Miss Minnie Bannister. Henry and Minnie in fact provide the highlight of the evening in their argument about whether Henry has ever really seen a man with a hairy bald head. Their escalating and childish argument is brilliantly played with great comic timing.
Anchoring the original programmes with some sense of narrative direction was the character of Neddy Seagoon, portrayed by Harry Seacombe. Here Seagoon has, if anything, an even more significant role across the evening and is brought to life with almost uncanny accuracy.
Numerous flights of surreal fancy combined with some classic Milliganesque jokes are played to perfection by a cast who are clearly at home both with each other and the characters they are playing. Rounding off the evening there is an extra treat in the shape of the Ying Tong Song, a top 10 hit on its original release in the 1950s and again in 1973.
Funny for newcomers and fans alike, The Goon Show is on tour until November 2018.