Thursday, 20 February 2014

Churchill and Adolf

The hugely talented Pip Utton performed two of his one man shows as a charity fundraiser in Frome at the lovely Merlin Theatre.

Churchill is a brief run through he life of Winston Churchill.  As he complains, 100 word in a guide book is not enough to sum up someone who packed so much into 90 years of life.  An hour barely scratched the surface either.  The play is brilliantly performed, packed with detail and littered with some of Churchill's famous and not so famous witty comments - as well as a few topical jokes.

The stage set up is small but effectively used, changing pace and feel.  The speech, after the battle of Britain was deeply moving.  I am in awe of Utton ability to transform himself into someone, capturing the mannerism, the gait, the voice, to remember and deliver lines in the right spot with the right gesture or tone of voice, or pause, all done without a slip.  Brilliant.

Adolf, after an interval was rather disturbing, no doubt it's intention.  After being harangued by Hitler with his imagined last testament, Utton continues the play as himself - trying to draw people into to accepting more and more of his views on life and politics.  Sounding like a UKIP supporter after a few pints, it is uncomfortable to listen to. The twist comes at the end, when he starts to morph back into Hitler and asks what will we the audience do when we hear the voice of Hitler - for in a sense he has never gone away.  I am not sure that this is enough.  I would hate to confront Hitler on a talk show or in a  debate.  There is no doubt Hitler was a brilliant orator and had a steamrolling charisma, in an utterly bad way.   99% of the play seems to put forward Hitlers case, of course it is not its intention to promote Hitler, just the opposite - but does it , I am not sure.

Most of us have seen film of Hitler on TV or actors playing the part, here though, he was recreated - yes it was in English, yes it was play but it is about a close to experiencing Hitler as one could wish to get. As Utton said at the start, speaking as Hitler, you wish I would go away, but I won't.  What I find most disturbing is that the debate in the UK at the moment is crowded with little Hitlers, not in the old sense of the words, the petty bureaucrat or parking metre attendant, but the people who hate people on benefits, who attack the disabled, who lump all Muslims together, how see the unemployed as worthless, who think people with mental illness should just pull themselves together, who think every problem can be solved by punishing people.  Yes, Hitler hasn't gone away. 

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