Adolf @ The Stand New Town Theatre
Bringing back his monologue for the final time, Pip Utton's Adolf is as relevant and powerful as ever
Chaplin, Einstein, Churchill, Thatcher, Francis Bacon and countless others, they all share a common root: they have been subject for one of the paradigm performers of dramatic monologues – Pip Utton.
There is one, however, who has time and time again stood out as Utton’s signature role: Adolf Hitler. Adolf plumbs the final days of the 20th century’s most monstrous tyrant and slithers into our perceptions, stinging expectations.
Hopefully this is the closest you will stand with evil. It’s an enrapturing performance, capturing the ideology of Nazism just as equally as Utton evolves his physical performance into the dictator. The callousness Utton achieves is uncomfortably breath-taking. You’re in a split-mindset. Do you appreciate an actor who is the envy of his peers, or do you sit and allow the toxic nature of the Führer to take hold?
You’ll gag on your chuckles, feeling shame at the acknowledgement of wit in Utton’s writing. There are no attempts to validate or draw Hitler into a sympathetic light. There is instead a gentle coaxing of preconceptions, leaving breadcrumbs which lead to the spine-chilling line: “I never really left.”
There’s little question to why Utton revives his previous Fringe staple. He orchestrates the audience well, drawing allegories without bluntness. To the extent, you’ll spot the odd-audience member unsure if they should remain or duck out early. So perplexing is the tone shift we're unsure whether to trust our discomfort or if this is all theatrics – that is the sign of powerful dramatic tension.
Adolf is the pinnacle of political theatre, not in how direct it uses semiotics of the Third Reich, but in its twisting, manipulative underbelly as Utton’s performance grows into the second half. Terrifying beyond expectations, Adolf leaves as profound an impact as ever.
Adolf, The Stand New Town Theatre, until 12 Aug, 3.50pm, £15-13