Dark side of the Goon

Spike play hits the West End

A new play about the life and work of Spike Milligan is opening in the West End in February.

Ying Tong - A Walk with the Goons combines a tribute to the Fifties radio show with drama about Milligan’s lifelong battle with mental illness.

It has already enjoyed a successful run at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, where it was developed, and will open at the New Ambassadors Theatre on February 10.

It is the first of playwright Roy Smiles’s planned Dead Comedians trilogy, the others being about Tony Hancock and Groucho Marx.

The plot sees Spike Milligan planning his escape from a mental institution dressed in only his pyjamas so he can write The Goon Show to end all Goon Shows. After applying to the British Museum to get his marbles back, he starts to lose his grip on reality and threatens to kill Eccles, the most famous Goon character.

Critics gave the original production a warm, but qualified, welcome, with The Guardian’s Michael Billington writing: “I'm not sure Smiles fully explains Milligan's depression, but what [he] does is brilliantly integrate Milligan's humour and private predicaments.”

The show, which follows recent West End plays about Tommy Cooper, Morecambe and Wise and the revival of radio classic Round The Horne, is booking until June 4. Click here for tickets.

Published: 21 Dec 2004

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