The Goon Show

Review: The Goon Show at The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford

The Goon Show has become such a significant part of British comedy history that I find I know a lot about it even though it was last broadcast before I was born. My husband, Jim, and I are both old enough to remember the stars of The Goon Show and loved Spike’s poetry and Peter Seller’s performances as Inspector Clouseau. I only remember Harry Secombe on Song’s of Praise.

Three episodes of The Goon Show have been brought to the stage by director Tim Astley with the help of Spike Milligan’s agent Norma Farnes who is the producer of this show. Tom Capper as announcer Wallace Greenslade kicks the evening off reminding us that this is radio and to make sure that if we are enjoying ourselves we should make it clear to the listening audience and if we have any devices that are likely to make distracting sounds to disable them, as silly noises will not be tolerated in The Goon Show. The obedient and knowledgeable audience laughed enthusiastically at this.

The rest of the evening proceeds exactly as dictated by Spike Milligan’s original scripts. Many of the audience seemed to be familiar with these and laughed enthusiastically in all the right places. I have to say that I did not follow all the references and hence missed out on some of the jokes. The three performers playing The Goons (Julian Howard McDowell as Peter Sellers and Clive Greenwood as Harry Secombe) did a great job but I particularly loved Colin Elmer’s performance as Spike Milligan. Colin is brilliant at the multitude of character voices but is also physically very funny, lucky this wasn’t really radio! The musical duo ‘Java Jive’ (Rachel Davies and Anthony Coote) provide all music that would have been provided for radio by Ray Ellington and his orchestra. They also do all the sound effects; they certainly seemed to have got the best job and were obviously having great fun.

My husband is a huge Spike Milligan fan, was familiar with a lot of the material and clearly got more out of the evening than I did. If you are a Goon fan you will love this, if not you should still go, but might benefit from a bit of preparation beforehand.

4 stars

Review by Sally Knipe

The Goon Show launch at The Museum of Comedy

Remaining Tour Dates (as of the review date)
13-15 September Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford
17 September Everyman Theatre Cheltenham
18 September New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham
19 September Brewhouse Taunton
20 September Trinity Theatre Tunbridge Wells
22 September Theatre Royal Winchester
23 September Richmond Theatre Richmond
25-26 September Lighthouse Centre for the Arts Poole
27-29 September Blakehay Theatre Weston-Super-Mare
2-3 October Octagon Theatre Yeovil
4 October Princess Theatre Torquay
5-6 October Haymarket Theatre Basingstoke
7 October Theatre Royal Brighton
10 October Key Theatre Peterborough
11 October Capitol Theatre Horsham
13 October Lichfield Garrick Lichfield
16 October Leatherhead Theatre Leatherhead
17 October Norwich Playhouse Norwich
18-20 October Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds
21 October Waterside Theatre Aylesbury
23 October New Theatre Royal Lincoln
24 October Grand Opera House York
25 October Majestic Theatre Darlington
30 October South Hill Park Bracknell
31 October Mercury Theatre Colchester
1 November Auden Theatre Holt
5-7 November Theatr Clwyd Mold
11 November Leicester Square Theatre* London

*The final performance at the Leicester Square Theatre will be a special gala performance, at which The Goons will be joined on stage by Strictly Come Dancing star, Lance Ellington, son of original Goon Show band leader, Ray Ellington, and his band. There will also be a post-show Q&A session featuring a panel of special guests.

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