The Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds is to play host to Apollo Theatre Company’s new production of The Goon Show, in association with Spike Milligan Productions Ltd, who have teamed up to celebrate Spike’s centenary year by bringing this timeless radio comedy classic to the stage next month in the first major theatrical production of the show in its illustrious history.
In 1951, the landscape of British comedy changed dramatically when The Goon Show burst onto the airwaves of the BBC Home Service.
Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and co. brought a brand of surreal chaotic humour unlike anything that had been heard before and revolutionised the way radio comedy was produced.
With its bizarre characters, fantastical plots and hilarious running jokes, The Goon Show captured the imagination of the British public and made household names of its three main stars, all of whom would go on to achieve fame across the globe. The show’s influence is still felt today with comedians like Eddie Izzard citing it as a major influence.
This new production combines three of the original episodes, performing them just as Spike Milligan wrote them: no additions, no changes.
The Goon Show was always written for radio but with a studio audience – something that Spike was insistent on, a non-negotiable – and it was for this reason that the BBC initially rejected it. Thus it makes sense that the show translates easily to the stage, but further underlines the point that Spike’s scripts require no amendments.
Starring director Julian Howard McDowell (Fiddler on the Roof, Dangerous Liaisons) as Peter Sellers, Colin Elmer (who played Kenneth Williams in Apollo’s Round The Horne) as Spike Milligan, Clive Greenwood (The 39 Steps, Malice in Wonderland) as Harry Secombe and the quartet is made up with Tom Casper as Wallace Greenslade, the long-suffering, deadpan best-BBC-voiced announcer trying to instil a modicum of stability whilst the others flailed hilariously around him in the tornado of jokes, japes, silly voices and zany characters.
It is at the Theatre Royal from Thursday to Saturday, October 18 to 20.