76 Million People and Me

It’s extremely disorientating to wander into a tiny room tucked away at the top of the Caroline of Brunswick and be met with Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot lounging around. This gathering of dictators soon assumed their positions, sat in two’s in half a small rowing boat and from the offset, there’s an engaging disregard for aesthetic historical accuracy within the performance.

The performance handled difficult, tender issues with a criminal amount of ease.

Hitler and Stalin are both played by blonde actresses while Mao has an excellent Scottish accent and Hitler a Northern English one. The main attempts to distinguish which psychopath is which are through their clothes or uniforms, which serve their purpose well enough. The dialogue is quick-paced and impressive, moving quickly through homosexuality, religion, East verses West, legacies, what constitutes genocide and the pitfalls of America, with the actors frequently interrupting and quipping at each other. This allows some great characterization and the development of the dictators personalities. Stalin is rather idiotic, naïve and excitable, Hitler is worryingly knowledgeable and authoritative; Pol Pot is just upset about the fact that no one has any idea who he is and Mao is overwhelmingly insecure about not being Chinese.

The performance then engages with dictatorship on another level with the abrupt interruption of the director who, until then, was simply sat in the audience as a spectator. The director is difficult and critical about the performance, though not as brutal as the writer is during his own later interruption. Unfortunately, the show was too short and fast-paced to allow the audience to fully understand the interaction between these powerful political figures and the control (or lack of) that the writer and director exercise over the performance via their interruptions. Some extremely interesting political debates were touched upon and I found myself wanting to hear them developed and expanded upon. The group hadn’t rehearsed the ending of the play in that space before which was glaringly apparent as they wandered around for the last 3 minutes and shrugged at each other. Despite this, the performance handled difficult, tender issues with a criminal amount of ease.

Reviews by Alaina Briggs

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The Blurb

'76 Million People and Me' is the story of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot trapped on a rowing boat to hell. As they travel, their conversation lurches from national anthems to the finer points of genocide. This dark comedy asks the audience how much do we really know about evil, and what is the cost of a human life?