Based on Spike Milligan’s 1971 novel of the same name, Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall comes to the stage full of the absurd wit and tomfoolery one would expect from a one-time Goon.
As Spike (Sholto Morgan) recounts his time in the army and the many ways he and his colleagues try to stave off the boredom – and the horror – of war, the audience are treated to a barrage of jokes and observations fired at will into the stalls.
Taking the form of a show put on for the forces, introduced by a plummy officer (Matt Devereaux), we’re soon in the company of a group of men thrown together to fight the Nazi hordes who’d rather be at home in Blighty with a bag of fish and chips and a pint in the pub.
To ensure they maintain some sort of normality, Spike and co pick up instruments and entertain the troops, and each other, in between fighting and the odd mission, black humour carrying them through the many months of service.
Musical numbers and recreations of events both harrowing and hilarious make up the majority of the show’s runtime, the actors’ abilty of playing their own instruments and crooning the odd wartime number helping to give the production an air of authenticity at times.
Whether he’s answering back to his superiors, carrying out bizarre orders or exchanging surreal banter with bunkmates, Spike is a force of nature, Morgan doing well to capture the spirit of the man if not offering an replica of his mannerisms and persona.
Though the play does have its darker moments, these never quite come across as serious as perhaps they’re meant to, but this doesn’t detract from its success.
With a number of memorable moments, including one stand-out tribute to the legend that is Tommy Trinder, this is a harmless way to spend an evening in the company of actors clearly enjoying themselves and the madness.
On UK Tour until 28 November 2009
Watch a trailer for the show: