SPIKE Milligan’s satirical comedy, The Mattress-Sitting Room, co-written with John Antrobus, opened at London’s Mermaid Theatre in 1963, and was a hit within the capital and when it went on tour.
At a press convention on the eve of the play’s week-long run at Glasgow’s Alhambra in July 1967 Milligan launched the forged – or, as he playfully known as them, “a travelling unemployment alternate for layabouts and actors”. He described The Mattress Sitting Room, which was set within the aftermath of the third world struggle, as a “good night time of completely nothing”.
The play didn’t impress the Glasgow Herald’s drama critic, Christopher Small. Noting the presence of some “vintage, good-humoured, humane … veteran gags”, he mentioned they stood out with a noble solidity within the shambles round them, and that Milligan had a young feeling for them.
“Moreover, on this elaborately lunatic charade he, or his persona – the extravagantly tattered, shuffling, scratching, winking, finger-to-nose-laying tramp – seems probably the most practically sane creature there, partially indifferent from what’s, in any case, his personal phantasmagoria.”
The infamous factor in regards to the play is that it was “mad”, “and insanity, as everybody is aware of, is in itself exquisitely humorous. It additionally confers absolute licence, in order that something will be mentioned, and every part is equally to be giggled at. …”
Milligan’s comedy consisted “for probably the most a part of the disjointed obscenities, blasphemies, scatologies that are the stuff of schizophrenic fantasy, however it’s schizophrenia with the anguish eliminated”.
From begin to end, the play’s content material was all matter for undifferentiated mockery, which destroyed no matter satiric or pathetic impact was meant.
On the finish, with a line from Yeats and a touch of sentiment, Milligan gave the impression to be going by way of the motions of at the very least touching the sensibilities. “However it’s a lot too late by then, for an viewers lengthy since lowered to laughing automatons. It’s actually fairly horrible to see.”
Monday: Milligan on the Fringe
Learn extra: Herald Diary: https://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/19333329.diary-hard-times-readers/