Adelaide Fringe

Adolf – Adelaide Fringe 2011

Presented by the Centre for International Theatre
Reviewed Saturday 19th February 2011

Venue: Royalty Theatre, Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 7:15pm to 27th Feb.
Duration: 90mins
Tickets: all tickets $23/group 6+ $20

Adolf Hitler’s final hours in the Berlin bunker in April 1945 is the point at which this play begins. The Führer is making final arrangements, setting events in motion for after his death and benevolently passing out the cyanide capsules to those around him, for their own good, of course. He emerges from behind his desk to stand before five blood red banners, each with a swastika. He then begins to give extracts from speeches, writings and, in so doing, expounds his reasons for his course of action that led to this moment.

Pip Utton is frighteningly real in the role of Hitler. Although speaking in English his delivery, his vocal inflections reflect those of Hitler. In uniform, with wig and false moustache, Utton also looks remarkably like Hitler. Completing the picture are his movements that capture those of Hitler. Every little gesture and facial expression is spot on.

As Utton speaks, Hitler’s logic starts to seem almost reasonable. Utton’s script has been carefully crafted to lead the audience along a series of thought processes in a matter of minutes, as Hitler led the German people over many years. He treats the audience variously as his followers in the bunker, as Eva Braun and as the German people.

The feeling of unease increases minute by minute as Utton’s Hitler starts to make some sort of sense, his distorted logic and racial bias being clouded and glossed over. As he reaches a climax this first part of the performance ends abruptly.

Doffing the wig, moustache and jacket, Utton begins to chat directly amiably to the audience, beer in hand. At first everything appears to be innocuous, but all is not quite right. Hints of something sinister begin to appear, then vanish, the appearances slowly getting longer and more intense.

Utton’s deft handling of the situation is superb, taking the audience around twists and turns and confronting them with a host of distasteful propositions in a way that almost makes them acceptable. His final conclusion says it all.

This is a quite amazing piece of anti-racist theatre, well directed by Guy Masterson to bring out the personal side of Hitler to make him even more worrying than his historical face, and acted incredibly by the enormously talented Pip Utton. Utton turns our conceptions on their heads, rights them again, then repeats the process several more times, leaving us disoriented. This is theatre at its best with a masterful piece of work from Pip Utton that you all must see.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

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