Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Written and produced by Pip Utton,the maestro of the solo show takes on the man with the cigar.
A few years ago, I went to see a one hander on ORSON WELLES. The show began when the actor stuck his head outside dark curtains wearing a black hamburg and uttered a few lines from THE THIRD MAN. His impersonation was so uncanny, it gave me goosebumps. He went on to act out Welles’ brilliant but failed life as actor, innovator and larger than life character, even morphing into Wells by adding padding in front of his dressing room mirror as he got older and fatter.
Well, Pip Utton inhabits Churchill much the same way, reminiscing about his childhood, first experiences with war and evolving into the great world leader he became, rising magnificently in his country’s hour of need. Pip doesn’t look much like Churchill but he live his character with its all consuming gigantic ego and ever present cigar. When he recited the famous war speech about fighting on the beaches, shivers ran down my spine.
Chruchill is such an overpowering person with so many sides to his character, it is a challenge to convey the man himself. During the 1930s, he was the highest paid witer in Europe. He won the Nobel Prize for literature. Chruchill also was an artist, orator, politician and, of course, arguably the greatest statesman of his time. Utton takes this challenge and conveys something of the man with humour and respect.
While it is fascinating to attend biographical shows because you learn a lot about a public figure, Utton makes real theatre out of this performance. In theatrical terms, you would be justified in saying the production values are high, that it contains real theatrical elements.
Churchill starts in a surprising fashion and thoroughly entertains throughout. If you like one man shows, do not miss this one.
Utton is the old man of one man shows on the Fringe, the Telegranh calls him "the doyen of one man shows.". I first saw him morphing from a racist bigot into Hitler some ten years ago, a one person show still talked about and one he reprises this Festival.
As I walked out and asked Utton what character he was planning to do next, he replied "Casanova." Good luck, Pip, I’m sure it will be worth seeing.