Saturday, April 21, 2007

Ying Tong A Sad Walk with a Goon

Ying Tong (Play) by Roy SmilesThe current production of the play "Ying Tong - A Walk with the Goons" By Roy Smiles is getting a lot of attention for its Goon humor. But the Australian premiere in Canberra at the Street Theatre in 2006 was a very dark comedy.

Ying Tong is about Spike Milligan's struggle with writing and, in passing, his relationship with Peter Sellers. While Sellers went on to have a successful acting career, Milligan became trapped by his Goon past. While being a very successful and productive author, he was always seen as a former Goon.

The Street Theatre seems to specialize in plays about geniuses struggling with their inner demons, with their previous presentation of Peter Parnell's play "QED" about the life of physicist Richard Feynman.

QED burdened the audience with almost a lecture about Feynman's scientific theories. Roy Smiles only hints at Milligan's past in Ying Tong. This makes for a more accessible play, but still one really only decipherable by Goon Show fans. Non fans will have difficulty understanding what is going on, which of course, was always part of the fun with this type of humor.

If you want to hear Milligan at his best, read his seven volumes of war memoirs:
  1. Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall (1971)
  2. Rommel? Gunner Who? A Confrontation in the Desert (1974)
  3. Monty: His Part in My Victory (1976)
  4. Mussolini: His Part in My Downfall (1978)
  5. Where Have All the Bullets Gone? (1985)
  6. Goodbye Soldier (1986)
  7. Peace Work (1992)

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