The Goon Show: Phantom Head Shaver (of Brighton), The Canal: Spike Millligan
Old Joint Stock, Birmingham
Then, Croydon till 11 10 14
0121 200 0946
Perfs: 03, 04 October 2014
Runs approx, 1h 25, inc one interval
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 03 10 14
An unmitigated pleasure.
The enterprising Old Joint Stock theatre has teamed up with Birmingham’s Comedy Festival to present, on the Comedy Fest launch date, two scripts from the BBC Radio Home Service Goon Show. My understanding is that even obtaining the scripts and getting the right to perform them is an epic tale in itself.
Written by Spike Milligan and performed most notably by Harry Seacombe and Peter Sellars, the team created a myriad of dotty characters including Neddy Seagoon, Henry & Min(nie) and, of course, Bluebottle – ‘Yes, my cap-i-tain.’ As youngsters we used to do them all.
In the days they were broadcast we just laughed along with them; now they are mulled over, relistened to, wondered at in the stylish surrealism and ability to deconstruct themselves and the radio medium. And much admired because they are [expletive]ing brilliant.
They are stylishly recreated for this live performance, with performers and audience bonding in shared affection for the work. This is not earth-shattering, but it’s not meant to be. However, it’s a revelation to see the performers working hard switching instantly from voice to voice – or rather character to character. It’s lovely to see the period phone keep coming out for phone calls and even the random rustling of paper to represent parcels being unwrapped; all part of the performance. And, joy of joys, coconut shells.
One thrills to hear the mellifluous RP: ‘Good evening; this is the BBC.’
No expense is spared by the OJS in their recreation; perfectly gauged musical interludes are provided by the Jonathan Silk Players.
Performers: Robert Coletta, Phil Hemming, Jimm Rennie, Richard Usher.
Musicians: Dave Bristow, Nick Jurd, Jonathan Silk, Chris Young
Directed by: Robert F Ball
Props and Wardrobe: Rebecca Phillips
Produced by: Dave Freak (Birmingham Comedy Festival