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Edinburgh Fringe 2010

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Pip Utton

Venue: Pleasance Courtyard, The Attic


Low Down

Utton has made a name for himself with his masterful grasp on the one-man show. From Hitler to Chaplin and now with Quasimodo, Pip is a master at bringing these figures to back to life with acute accuracy and impressive skill.


 Quasimodo sits at the top of Notre Dame. Disfigured, filthy and deaf, he is whole-heartedly alone. That is except from a body of a beautiful woman, Esmerelda, lying at peace in the centre. What follows in the next 60 minutes is a moving account of this broken human, reflecting on image, external and internal beauty and life as an outcast in Paris.

The concept is terrific. In an era ever so concerned with image and beauty, it is fascinating to use such a well know story to delve into such ideas.

Utton is continually convincing and captivating throughout. He truly becomes the hunchback, especially in his speech and his stiffened, dissembled movements. The dialogue undulates throughout: from slow, thoughtful and poignant to enraged, passionate outbursts. This keeps the audience engaged throughout which, for a one-man show, is no mean feat.

Set is simple. Esmerelda lies onstage covered in white cotton whilst Quasimodo crawls and moves around her. This is very effective, as are the intermittent bells, chiming throughout, highlighting moments of the creature’s madness. They, also, create a sense of haunting, which in turn leaves the audience moved, captivated.

This show is not the most jolly – you won’t be walking out with a smile on your face – but it will provide those who see it with an hour of beautiful acting and will provoke a reaction and keep you thinking for many hours after. 


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