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REVIEW: Spike (UK Tour, Glasgow)

Updated: Feb 15

The King's Theatre, Glasgow

1 November 2022


Spike the play by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman

"It’s 1950s austerity Britain, and out of the gloom comes Goon mania as men, women and children across the country scramble to get their ear to a wireless for another instalment of The Goon Show. While Harry Secombe and Peter Sellers get down to the serious business of becoming overnight celebrities, fellow Goon and chief writer Spike finds himself pushing the boundaries of comedy, and testing the patience of the BBC."

I had a lovely night at the theatre at Spike the play. You don't need to know what the Goon Show was or who The Goons were (I didn't) - all is explained during the show. The performances are great, especially from Robert Wilfort as Spike Milligan. He just oozes quality.

The Goon show recordings at the BBC and Spike's struggles with the creative writing process, everyday life and mental health battles are cleverly interspersed with flashbacks to his military battles during WWII.

Robert Wilfort as Spike Milligan in Spike the play

I wasn't familiar with the Goon Show and yet I still enjoyed the play. The writing from Ian Hislop and Nick Newman is sharp, and the play moved along at pace. I believe The Goon show material is exactly as can be found on BBC records, and although the humour wasn't always up my street, there is no doubting Spike's quick wit and comic genius. The BBC rejected and edited out a lot of Spike's edgier ideas unfortunately; the program aired on Sundays in the 1950's after all!

The Glasgow opening night audience was full of fans, but even if you are new to The Goons like me, it's an interesting play with some clever sound effects, strong performances and laugh out loud moments. The mental health struggles and the horrors of war were handled sympathetically too. The play is well balanced and never gets too dark.

I am a fan of the writers previous play, The Wipers Times and would've loved to have stayed for the Q&A. It's a bonus that the writers are making themselves available at each touring location for an audience Q&A. A nice touch from a talented team.

[Review first posted on Instagram 3 November 2022]


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REVIEW: Spike the play by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman (UK Tour, Glasgow Spike Milligan, The Goon Show)


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