Photograph by Ellie KurtzSpike Milligan's Adolf Hitler: My Part In His Downfall

Adapted by Ben Power & Tim Carroll
Presented by Greg Ripley-Duggan, LHP Ltd, Chichester Festival Theatre, Charles Diamond and 1001 Nights
Playhouse Theatre

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

I am not the greatest fan of Spike Milligan - his madcap humour left me unamused - but this adaptation of his book about his wartime experiences was imaginatively and comically presented.

Yes some of the gags were dated - we are talking seventy years ago - but overall his message of the absurdity and futility of war came across very strongly.

The production includes a concert for the troops, an assortment of songs - some of them not very well sung, but maybe that was the point - various comic sketches, often with the character of Milligan, very well played by Sholto Morgan, challenging the often pompous top brass in the army - and accomplished jazz music.

Surprisingly, given his disdain of officers, etc, and despite turning up three months late to join his regiment, he was promoted to Lance Bombardier, seeing action in Italy and north Africa but then demoted to plain old Gunner Milligan after disobeying orders.

The mental illness which plagued him throughout most of his adult life first manifested itself during the war, and he ended up in a psychiatric hospital.

Milligan is particularly observant of the sheer boredom of war, with often nothing to do throughout most of the day, and the belief of many soldiers 'What the hell are we doing here in this godforsaken outpost?'

He is also aware of how very strong freindship can arise from a bunch of strangers being massed together in times of war. It was mentioned that following the war, his unit met every six months until all of them had fallen to the grim reaper.

But it is far from being a one-man show. He is ably supported by David Morley Hale, Dominic Gerrard, Matthew Devereaux and William Findley, who alternate from playing music to doing comic turns to playing is very cleverly and creatively conceived.

One of the best jokes of the evening was provided by the character playing Hitler. With the Allied forces and the Soviet Union about to reach Berlin, he admitted that defeat was at hand. "But at least we will finish second", he commented.

Printer friendly page

Sorry Comments Closed