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Production

Adolf

Company

Pip Utton Theatre Company

Reviewer

Nadia Bte Ibrahim

Date

05/03/2005

Time

3.00pm

Place

The Esplanade Recital Studio

Rating

***1/2

All Hail the Führer!

One could have been tricked into thinking that this two-hour production would revolve only around the Führer himself, his justifications for the mass killing of Jews and his vision of Utopia. That would have been interesting enough as the exploration of an individual's psyche usually provides for an insightful performance, especially when the individual in question is so notorious. However, Adolf was a pleasant surprise as it delivered more than expected.

The play begins when the audience is introduced to Hitler, (played by Pip Utton), who is preparing to commit suicide after realising that the ongoing war will not end with German victory. In his bunker, he prepares to speak to his loyal comrades, those who have stood by his side as he has led Germany through World War Two. During the first hour of the production, Utton, looking uncomfortably like the Führer, takes the audience on a journey where they soon learn how a man like Hitler could have become the leader of Germany.

One of history's greatest demagogues, Hitler possessed the ability to rouse the audience with his passion and conviction. Utton portrayed this perfectly. In fact, if he hadn't been speaking in English, his perfect imitation of Hitler's style and mannerisms - he had even perfected Hitler's favourite gesture of gently pressing his hair down - could have fooled even a Nazi soldier. Created from the words of Mein Kampf, Adolf delved into the twisted mind of Hitler, leaving no area unexplored. Utton revealed that as maniacal as Hitler was, his brilliant methods succeeded in shaping the mindset of an entire nation.

The lighting and sound crew significantly enhanced Utton's role as the failing infallible leader. The lighting was often used to cast a large, intimidating shadow behind Utton onto a red flag emblazoned with the swastika, the symbol of Nazi cruelty. Along with this, the great amplification of Utton's voice during some of his speeches enabled his complete transformation into the Führer, the man whom Germany had looked up to.

My only complaint is that certain parts seemed to drag on for too long. This could have been due to slight repetitions which had the relatively young audience craving more action.

The first part of the play was undoubtedly insightful but the latter part was not only more attention-grabbing but also more directly relevant today. After Hitler had ended his final fiery speech, the play took an unexpected turn. Loosening his tie and removing his wig and fake moustache, Utton complained about "the bloody heat" and asked the audience for a cigarette and a beer. This sudden transformation took the audience by surprise, and most of them started to turn to each other, unsure whether the actor was serious. With a can of beer (provided by his backstage crew) in his hand, Utton began to amuse the audience with jokes about fat people, immigrant races and other types of people in the world today. Slowly and effortlessly, he put his audience at ease by mimicking the accents and behaviours of different races. However, quite soon, the audience realised the sinister direction is which Utton was heading and the laughter died down. Then, just as suddenly as he had transformed an hour ago, Utton took on the role of the Führer yet again, delivering another speech on the need to exterminate the Jews and preserve a pure race in Germany.

Though racism and intolerance may not be as extreme today as they were sixty years ago, Utton showed us how they still exist. His ability to switch from portraying Hitler to portraying an Everyman racist was commendable. Deceptively chatty, he allowed the audience to feel at ease before subtly showing them that their ease was ill-founded; showing them that, just as the people of Germany allowed Hitler to take control of their nation, the same thing could happen again.

Utton wrote the play himself, and its two parts complemented each other nicely to expose the great influence of racism today. All in all, a powerful and challenging performance by the actor.


"If he hadn't been speaking in English, Utton's perfect imitation of Hitler's style and mannerisms - he had even perfected Hitler's favourite gesture of gently pressing his hair down - could have fooled even a Nazi soldier."

More M1 Singapore Fringe Festival Performances
White Men with Weapons by Actor's Co-op

Errorism - Flowers of Evil
by Zai Kuning and Li Xie

What Big Bombs You Have!!!
by The Necessary Stage

SCHOENBERG......Prismed by Shane Thio and Kuo Jing Hong

More Reviews by Nadia Bte Ibrahim

Ratings out of 5, based on Practitioner's Vision / Reviewer's Response: ***** = Transcendent / Rapturous;
**** = Crystal / Appreciative; *** = Transmitted / Thoughtful; ** = Vague / Unsatisfied; * = Uncommunicated / Mystified.