Chichester Festival Theatre: Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall by Spike Milligan
An interestingly mixed crowd of older and younger Goons fans filled much of the Festival Theatre on Thursday night for Bristol Old Vic’s sparky production of Spike Milligan’s classic war memoir.
Adapted for the stage by Ben Power and Tim Carroll, it was a strong mix of knockabout bawdy barrack room humour, Milligan’s surreal yet poignant story-telling and some classy jazz numbers from the Forties.
A talented cast, led by Sholto Morgan as Milligan, did an excellent job in a show that mixed a mock ENSA show for the troops, direct excerpts from the book, and vignettes that captured superbly the gallows humour, humanity and tragic sacrifice of wartime.
As co-adapter Ben Power writes in his programme notes, the show’s spontaneity and looseness owes as much to the ragged nature of Spike’s surreal writing as the way the action has been put together, and mirrors the freeform nature of the jazz Spike loved to play as lead trumpeter.
Giving sterling support to Sholto, as the boys of Battery D, were Dominic Gerrard (Edgington), William Findley (Goldsmith), David Morley Hale (Kidgell) and Matthew Devereux (MC), and they delivered some superb instrumental and vocal performances, handling piano, drums, saxophone, double bass, guitar and trumpet between them.
A fun night that will have prompted many an audience member to dig out those old paperbacks again, and revel in the tortured genius of Milliganism.
Ends Saturday night (24 October) before travelling to Watford, Liverpool and Nottingham. More at www.spikeswar.com