As neither a die-hard fan of Spike Milligan, nor with any personal connection with the times or happenings of World War Two it is, on the surface, hard to find a connection with the driving forces of this adaptation of Milligan’s memoirs by Ben Power and Tim Carrol. However, this is not to say that there not enough within this witty performance in order to keep the ignorant entertained with its content.
In fact, the adaptation embodies what I know Milligan’s humor to be; off the wall and sometimes random. In a structure that is based around a series of sketches performed for us ‘troops’ we are given snippets of Spike as a youthful soldier injected with his signature whacky jokes and physical comedy. The montage of scenes is often humorous and entertaining, if not a little confusing in its fast paced switching between locations and characters.
The glances of happenings are aided by musical contributions by the entire ensemble; each member being able to play a different instrument. This adds to the production by portraying the time and place through the means of the musical score.
There is a limit in how much a novice like me can gain from this adaptation, whilst one can enjoy the humor and the musicality it is obvious that one can not gain the nostalgia or enjoyment of fans of Milligan’s work or those who have a connection or interest in World War Two. Perhaps, if this were the case another level of entertainment is employed on top of simply enjoying the humor and music; if the songs or jokes mean more to the spectator than the content on the surface then they are more likely to stir more of a reaction.
The progression of Spike Milligan’s war time experiences and how they molded a performer that became a national treasure certainly makes for an entertaining evening; however, its content will mean more to certain theatre-goers than others, therefore influencing how one member of the audience will view the production to another.