The One After the Last Goon Show

Globe Theatre, 312 Main St, Palmerston North

19/04/2007 - 21/04/2007

Production Details

by Peter Hawes
directed by Jeff Kingsford Brown

The One After the Last Goon Show is Peter Hawes take on a Goon Show that never was, until now. It was given its first outing in 2006 as part of BloodWorks’ late night ‘evolution’ series at Centrepoint.

Jeff Kingsford Brown
Nick Gibb
Peter Hawes
Therese McCrea

SFX: Matt Waldin
Pianist: Kane Parsons

Theatre ,

“It does in a daft fashion work”

Review by John C Ross 24th Apr 2007

That the BBC’s manic Go-On Show (or was it the Goon Show?) went on air week after week for nearly nine years can be seen as a kind of on-going miracle. As we now know, the strain this imposed upon the script-writer Spike Milligan was so diabolical it drove him into two nervous breakdowns.

Peter Hawes (like myself) is of an age to be a lifetime Goons addict.

And as a playwright, satiric novelist and newspaper columnist he knows what a grimly serious business it is trying to be funny. Still, amidst all the chaotic craziness involved he does bring this extra episode off, with all the familiar idiots and crooks – Neddy Seagoon, Bluebottle, the famous Eccles, Count Jim Thighs Moriarty, and the rest of them – getting an adequate outing.

This last (after the last) adventure centres upon the desperate need to hoist a genuine British Typhoon up to Force Ten, by rushing a supply of the right lubricant to the weather-gramophone.

Dramatic reality (whatever that may be) and bizarre sound effects morph into one another.

The theatrical reality is simply a recording studio, with Spike Milligan (Jeff Kingsford Brown), Peter Sellers (Nick Gibb) and Harry Secombe (Peter Hawes) doing the various characters’ voices into the mikes, with an exasperated BBC director (Thérèse McCrea) trying to preserve a smidgeon of propriety, a sounds effects wizard (Matt Waldin), and a pianist (Kane Parsons), standing in for Ray Ellington.

Halfway through recording the show, it turns out the ending is not yet written, and Milligan somehow manages to scribble page after page only just in time for Sellers and Secombe to say the lines, sometimes having to answer themselves as different characters. It gets insane. It does in a daft fashion work.

Hawes himself as Neddy Seagoon sometimes fell marginally short of the endlessly eager naivety of this character, seeming a trifle too knowing. Gibb grew into assurance as the show went on. Kingsford Brown conveyed something of the wildness of Spike.

Knowing the original certainly helps, but this show would be enjoyable anyway, and deserves further performances in other theatres.


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Hawes' Goon Show 'a marvellous thing'

Review by Richard Mays 24th Apr 2007

The Goon Show written by Spike Milligan, with Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe, burst onto radio in 1951 as Crazy People. Renamed The Goon Show the following year, it was a cherished comedy institution by the time it ended in 1961.

In the ’50s, The Goon Show was to humour what its counterpart rock ‘n’ roll was to popular music, with the programme’s iconic status compounded over the decades courtesy of continuous reruns.

In putting together The One After The Last Goon Show, playwright Peter Hawes has done a marvellous thing in recapturing the breathless frenzy of a BBC recording session, and replicating the surreal nature of Milligan’s comedy. The format allows Hawes free reign to show off his Goonish writing skills, embellishing this audio cartoon with zany flair. As in the original, outrageous puns, ludicrous non-sequiturs, compounded double entendres, nonsensical situations, an arsenal of sound effects, and anarchic characters, completely subvert any pretence of plot or sanity.

Actors Nick Gibb as a debonair Sellers – man of a 1000 accents and a propensity for off-mic goonery, Jeff Kingsford-Brown’s slightly dazed neuron-fried Milligan, and Hawes as an ebullient Harry Secombe deliver reasonable imitations of the famous voices. In terms of characterisation however, there are still avenues to explore, with the famous three only rarely breaking into the third dimension.

With pianist Kane Parsons providing the traditional musical interlude, the recording is often halted by a non-empathetic martinet of a radio producer who persists in referring to Milligan’s baby as the Go On Show. Played in impeccably crisp tones by Therese McCrea, her disembodied voice cuts in if any reference is made to the Royals, or politicians, or anything she doesn’t like or understand. The home based scene between a frazzled Milligan and his Kiwi nanny, who also "doesn’t get it", is the only lull in this 70-minute freewheeling whirl of wit and nostalgia.

And high order humorous nostalgia it is too folks – a worthy tribute to Milligan’s comic genius. 


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