Thursday, 10 March 2011

Puckoon – Leicester Square Theatre, London

Writer: Spike Milligan
Music: Paul Boyd
Director: Zoë Seaton
Reviewer: Raylene Robertson

I turned up to review this play knowing nothing more about it than it is based on a novel, written by a famous author quite a few years ago, that is set in Ireland. I left the theatre dying to read this, to me, elusive novel!

Puckoon is based on the novel written by Spike Milligan, a great children’s poet and a ground breaker in British radio with ‘The Goon Show’. The play is set in Ireland, 1922 and is considered a comic masterpiece. It tells the story of the separation of Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland. The story is an absurd comedy punctured with poignant moments.

This production of Puckoon is definitely one for the family. There maybe one or two swear words, yet the visuals will definitely leave a more lasting effect. The kids, and grown-ups too, will love the visual and sound elements, the super quick costume and character changes merging with the ever quickening music are a quite a delight. I was surprised to see a number of young children in the audience, yet the more I thought about it the less I could argue against it.

I myself am of a somewhat younger generation. I had only vaguely heard the name Milligan and I had an unexpected, wholly wonderful evening. I had never been taught about our history with Ireland and I had just missed out on the ‘Carry on …’ era, yet I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening and am inclined to find out more about Spike Milligan!

The only thing that I can comment on is that on a couple of occasions the music was a little too loud, that those at the back could not quite hear the fast paced lines as well as those at the front.

However, the cast is great! They make the play feel like a collection of comedy sketches, they argue over who is to play the next ‘extra’, whilst not once loosing the plot and never do they become predictable. Most characters take on a numerous roles. Bryan Quinn’s transition from Mrs O’Toole to a male punter in her pub happens in the space of a second and is utterly hilarious!

Paul Boyd playing the role as the writer is a good move. He sits for most of the play, yet he gives the impression that his is a hard job, constantly being asked when will Dan Milligan’s legs become manlier? Organising who goes where and who is to do what, he delivers joke after joke and then hits you square in the eye with the truth. You are made to think. Yet not for too long … you are allowed to enjoy your night … but it gets under your skin!

Runs until 27 March 2011
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