Review by Adele Matterface
‘True democracy exists in the election of a leader. It can only succeed by allowing total control by the leader. It has nothing to do, absolutely nothing to do with the weakness of submitting to the will of the majority’
Adolf is the controversial and award-winning show by British playwright and actor Pip Utton, and is the one of the most thought-provoking, intelligent and downright disturbing plays I’ve ever seen. Utton is nothing short of a master actor, playing with his audiences beliefs and hazing the line between the illusion of the production and the audience’s reality.
Adolf is a one-man show which takes the form of a dramatic monologue, often quoting directly from Mein Kampf and Table Talk. The whole piece was performed with minimal props – most notably an imposing swastika banner, the very presence of which was disturbing. The performance is set in Berlin, 1945. Hitler is in his bunker awaiting the fall of his city, saying his farewells and organising his thoughts before he ends his life. In his final hours, he reflects in great detail on his beliefs, justifications and fascism as well as his personal triumphs and failures. The Hitler Utton portrays is practical rather than sentimental in regards to impending death. There are occasional moments of tenderness in the way he addresses Eva Braun, but these are constantly overshadowed by his paranoia and tyranny.
To reveal the details of the second half of the performance would spoil it for anyone who has not yet seen it. However, the second half is where Utton’s talent really shone. Full of humour which turned dark without warning, Adolf revealed unsettling prejudices the audience never even realised they had. It’s the only play I’ve ever seen where I felt like I needed a safe word. The play takes an in-depth look at fascism, while at the same time drawing parallels between the Germany ruled by Hitler and the world today. The genius of the play lies in its ability to make you doubt yourself, taking you from the comfort of knowing you are on the right side (opposing Hitler) before unsettling you completely by jumping between funny and too far. Overall, the work was brilliantly constructed and executed and it is easy to see why both Pip and his work have been so critically acclaimed.
Utton is usually based at the Merlin Theatre in Frome, although for the next few months he will touring in Germany. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see him perform, please check out his website at pip-utton.co.uk.
Addendum - I would like to take this opportunity to deviate for a second from the usual format of my reviews. As you probably already know, Trowbridge Arts may be forced to close their doors at the end of July. If this happens, talented actors such as Pip Utton will no longer be able to visit our town because there will soon be no venue in which they can perform. In the two years I have been volunteering with Trowbridge Arts, I have seen time and time again people of all ages, political standpoints, religions and backgrounds come together in a way I’ve never seen anywhere else in this town. If it closes, the loss will be felt throughout the entire community. If there is anything you feel you can do to help, please do it now, before it’s too late.
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Review by Adele Matterface