Not having seen anything Goon Show-related in last year’s Fringe, hospitality student Nicholas Coughlin decided to take a risk and write his own tribute to the radio plays of Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers, resulting in On The Shoulders Of Goons.
He then found three mates to help him read out the scripts in front of them, and five musicians to perform the jazz interludes throughout the play. While at first these musical breaks seemed a little odd, it was explained by the Goon fan sitting next to me that the original shows featured live jazz performances in between the story’s sections when it was beamed into radios around England from 1951 to 1960.
The first part of the show is an original script written by Nicholas, featuring Neddie Seagoon’s grandson going on his own adventure of national importance and ending up in Adelaide. The script has some great wordplay, although the performers aren’t confident with the material and it shows, with some lines not getting the laugh they deserve due to poor delivery. This is likely because they had their first full run-through the day before, which also doubled as their opening night. Nicholas wouldn’t have it any other way though, saying a Goon Show works best when a little rough around the edges. During the performance the computer running the sound effects malfunctions, and the actors occasionally lose their place in the script, but in the spirit of the original live broadcasts they always find ways of moving on with a laugh.
The second half is a full performance of the Goon Show episode ‘The Mighty Wurlitzer’. The actors have loosened up, and put a lot more effort into their performance. There are silly voices and stiff upper lips all over the place, and everyone is enjoying themselves. It may be rough, but it’s great to see a few uni students given the opportunity to perform. It’s what the Fringe is all about, and while many may not feel the low-key vibe worthy or their hard-earned fifteen dollars, it’s a great way to support some locals who are just having a bit of fun.