Spike Review

Malvern Festival Theatre – until 17th September 2022

Reviewed by Julie Bellerby


Spike by Nick Newman and Ian Hislop is a fast moving review of the life of Spike Milligan who’s vision of comedy was ground breaking and the base for many in the industry.

The play shows glimpses of his traumatic life, as a soldier in the second world war and his mental illness, and how the pressure of writing the Goon Show took its toll.

The Goon Show is still what he’s best known for during the 50’s and 60’s. This play mainly concentrates on this show using actual scripts Spike had written.

Spike is played by Robert Wilfort, who gave a good performance depicting this complex man who lived on the edge of life. Robert has appeared on our TV screens in many productions which includes Bridgerton, Citizen Khan, Gavin and Stacey and Ashes to Ashes.

Harry Secombe, played by Jeremy Lloyd was, for me, the strongest performer of the night, his portrayal of Harry gave the best believable character of the three.

Peter Sellers, played by Patrick Warner gave a good performance showing Peter’s personality well. Patrick has previously performed in ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ which has amazing timing with comedy, and can only help to increase his talents in this portrayal of Peter.

The three actors should work on interaction with each other to show a stronger connection of timing. This would greatly enhance the ‘believability’ of characters in the performance.

The biggest laughs of the evening went to ‘Janet’ played by Margaret Cabourn-Smith as the sound effect technician for the radio shows. She has a couple of scenes showing what props she used and to what effect, which was cleverly written.

The stage is set as the BBC radio recording studio, designed by Katie Lias was innovative, transforming easily to depict different scenes by the simple use of curtains and lighting. The lighting designed by Rory Beaton was very good and helped enormously to change the feel of the set. The flow of props is amazing, the constant movement was designed by Shelby Williams which seamlessly kept the show flowing and enhanced the depiction of the life of Spike Milligan.

As the first performance at Malvern Theatre there was a question and answer session after the play with Ian Hislop and Nick Newman with more antidotes’ about Spike. Both writers had met Spike in their earlier life as reporters and when working for the Private Eye Magazine.

A show worth seeing, but you do need to be aware of the Goon Show and the style of Comedy it had. It did leave you with a sense of wanting more. Time flew by, I was amazed when the final curtain closed