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Spike Milligan’s Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall

Chichester Festival Theatre: Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall by Spike Milligan

How does he DO that? Milligan (Sholto Morgan) admires the ability of Edgington (Dominic Gerrard) to conjure up a cuppa in the most unlikely places

How does he DO that? Milligan (Sholto Morgan) admires the ability of Edgington (Dominic Gerrard) to conjure up a cuppa in the most unlikely places

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

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Brighton Theatre Royal: The Wizard of Oz

Brighton Theatre Royal: The Wizard of Oz

When you decide to put on a stage version of one of cinema’s classic

Dorothy and chums belt out another Oz classic

Dorothy and chums belt out another Oz classic

children’s films, you face at least one key dilemma– to be faithful to the original, or to reinterpret it.

Thankfully, Theatre Royal Productions and Family First Entertainment took the sensible route and stuck to the original – and as a result have produced a truly excellent Christmas show that families will love.

Let’s face it, you want all the elements to be right – a cute and appealing Dorothy, a scary and villainous Wicked Witch of the West, comedy and companionship from the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion, a sparkly good witch, lots of singing and dancing Munchkins, great sets and the classic songs given a good airing.

This show ticks absolutely every box.

Rising musical star Aimie Atkinson has the Kansas accent off pat, a stunning voice and a great stage presence, and has stellar support in Tim Flavin (Scarecrow), who also directs and choreographs the show; Jon Clairmonte (Tin Man) and Gareth Marks (Lion), who camps his role up just the right side of pastiche.

It’s great to see Bruce Montague (Professor Marvel/Wizard) still in great form – many of the audience will remember him as Leonard from Butterflies, and from many other TV series.

Rae Baker (Wicked Witch/Miss Gultch) and Julia J Nagle (Aunt Em/Glinda) play their parts with relish and style, good knockabout stuff comes from Tony Jackson (Uncle Henry/Oz Guard) and there is high quality ensemble work from the Munchkins/Citizens of Oz/Winkies (Alex Taylor, Kirsty Lee Turner, Katie Cobb, Aideen Donaghue, Cameron Ball and Ian Goss).

The creative sets work very well – the tornado was handled superbly – and the costumes were also excellent, so credit to Evolution Productions for those.

If you’re looking for a great night of family entertainment, you won’t want to miss this one – it’s a truly wizard show.

The Wizard of Oz runs until Sunday 4 January
Box office: 08700 606 650
http://www.theambassadors.com/theatreroyal

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