facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11

Spike Milligan’s Adolf Hitler: My Part In His Downfall

First Published 28 July 2009, Last Updated 28 July 2009

“It is juvenile, it should stop at once,” comes the complaint from one of Spike Milligan’s officers during his World War II campaign. He is partially right, Milligan’s humour might be a touch on the juvenile side – I struggle to find a better word to describe it than silly – but that is no reason for it to stop. In fact, it should be whole-heartedly encouraged.

Hampstead theatre’s summer comedy has been adapted from Milligan’s war memoirs and tells the story of his time in the army, from the outbreak of war in 1939 to the time he left, suffering from shellshock, in 1944. It doesn’t just tell the story, like some kind of jolly séance it summons his very spirit to the stage, not through only own words and wit, but through the music he loved so much which is used to string the story together.

Presented as an army entertainment show, the tale is told through a series of sketches detailing important moments in those five years, from Milligan’s description of his family to barrack room discussions about women and food, from how to pass the time when standing guard in a hole – count your nose, imagine soap – to receiving a letter from his battery while recovering in hospital. Each of the sketches – which take the audience from Bexhill to North Africa then Naples, “the Catford of Italy” – is delivered with enough cheeky panache to keep a smile stuck to the audience’s faces.

The five-strong cast form Milligan’s jazz band as well as playing anyone concerned with the Second World War, from a sex-starved soldier to a Hitler afraid of modern music. Only Sholto Morgan, in his professional debut, sticks to one role, that of Milligan, imbuing it with just the right amount of wide-eyed innocence that allows him to get away with the most ridiculous of remarks.

The humour is easily recognisable as Milligan’s own, with gags coming faster than bullets from a tommy gun, and those who have read the books will feel at home with the adaptation by Ben Power and director Tim Carroll. But the show keeps at least a toe in the real world; the laughter occasionally cut short when the reality of war hits home like a mortar through a change in musical tone or the loss of a character.

It may well be silly, but why not; that is why the public fell in love with Milligan when he first started years ago, and that is why he is still remembered as a comic genius.



Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.