Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Pip Utton takes us through two sections. The first introduces Adolf Hitler in the Bunker taking his leave of the life that he has lead. It uses the gestures and the opinions unfortunately familiar to give us the background to more that is al so familiar to us. The parallels of history drawn we are invited to gaze into a mirror that reflects badly upon ourselves.
This is undoubtedly clever. Pip Utton has honed his portrayal to suit his performance. That is where I had my difficulty. You see the performance of Hitler in the bunker has the familiar and not so familiar gestures and tweaks of Hitler in place. The way in which Utton settles his hair after a particularly strident section is particularly well observed. For all that the overwhelming feeling that I had whilst watching him perform was not that I was in a 1945 bunker with the man most vilify as the most evil man in history. The portrayal does not depend upon the desperation of a man losing his Reich but more of a village parson delivering a lecture in his study. Occasional profanity aside there is the subtlety of performance and not the ardent gesture of Hitler.
This grates until the second part where the jacket comes off, a cigarette is bummed and a can of beer found to be opened and we are off into the sands of now. The performance as Hitler has set us up to expect a fireside chat and here is where it comes to fruition. Unfortunately I cottoned on early, perhaps due to my background in working in equalities and politics and found the while second part less effective than other did. As the quite reasonable things being said get a few Daily Mail radicals nodding you can see the joins as the parallels are drawn. At leas t I could. Those around me were enthralled. So they should be the set and technical effects through the lighting on particular Hitlerian rants worked well. Second half they came into their own as the effects were brought into the present.
As a one man play it has all that is needed for one. You have a strong character to play was well as the opportunity to converse directly with your audience. As a concept it is absolutely fantastic and it makes me want to see Pip Utton’s Dickens and Hunchback of Notre Dame.
I wish that I had seen this some time ago. It has been very popular with visits for Utton to 20 countries where he has been able to perform it. I just found it a little tired but then again there were plenty around me who got surprised by the second half. They played along until it dawned on them and applauded as they had been shown what they were in danger of being.
I was thrilled to get a ticket to see this but came away slightly less than overawed. It was a treat but I felt it was dated. Nonetheless you can’t argue with the effect this production has had over the years and it stands the test of time fairly well in comparison with others. It made me want to see more so it’s a definite four star hit for me.