I Am Gavrilo Princip

Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler all stand out in the history of the twentieth century. Even Archduke Ferdinand is known to many, but who can name the man who assassinated him and paved the way for two world wars and the decades that made the others notorious? It’s one of those frustrating pub quiz questions, to which people feel they ought to know the answer but either can’t remember it or actually never knew it. Imagine what it’s like, then, to be that man, living with the eternal torment of not being famous.

Movingly written and performed with charm

I Am Gavrilo Princip is a reflection on the conundrum of perhaps being the world’s most forgotten famous man, movingly written and performed with charm by Oliver Yellop, who on a bad day bears a certain resemblance to the man himself. Princip was never going to make it to heaven, but neither is he consigned to hell in this play, despite having committed a murder that changed the course of history. Instead, he inhabits purgatory, perpetually and punishingly pondering in his solitude as to why he never became famous.

The remarkable thing about Princip is that he was, in all respects, quite unremarkable and Yellop effortlessly captures the ordinariness of the young man, the second of nine children, of whom six died in infancy. An Orthodox Bosnian Serb, he came from the obscure hamlet of Obljaj. By various means he secured an education and was drawn to the cause of liberating his people from what he saw as the oppressive Austro-Hungarian occupation and rule of his country. His feelings intensified following a move to Sarajevo, where he continued his schooling and joined a secret revolutionary group, until he was expelled for taking part in a protest. He met with further rejection in Belgrade, following his journey there by foot; his feeble condition and lack of height making him unacceptable to the guerrilla groups. Going back and forth between the two cities he finally confounded all his critics when, as one of a group of conspirators, he fired the fatal shots that killed both the Archduke and, unintentionally, the Duchess.

His immediate attempt to kill himself was thwarted and he was put on trial. The verdict was inevitable, but he was denied the glory of martyrdom, being a few months short of twenty when he committed the crime and the of age at which he could have been executed. Instead, he was sentenced to the maximum of twenty years’ hard labour. The prison conditions exacerbated his tuberculosis and he was dead by the age of twenty-three.

In his various musings on Princip’s predicament, the events in his brief life are honestly and often amusingly told in an engaging monologue that faithfully discourses the dramatic history of the man’s journey from anonymity to obscurity. The addition of musical interludes and backing at crucial moments serves to break up the various scenes and support the action. The unusual instrumental combination of trumpet, often eerily and hoarsely muted, played by Luke Benson with Benji Hooper on Spanish guitar, creates a rustic soundscape befitting the events and that is evocative of Princip’s peasant origins.

Director, Anna Moors brings the performance elements together to create and engaging and understated production that begs the question as to why this man’s story has not received more dramatic attention. That is as much a mystery as the lack of recognition attached to his name. This captivating performance was a one-off on the foyer stage at the Queen’s Theatre, where Yellop has just finished an outstanding run in So Here We Are. He’s a name to look out for and I Am Gavrilo Princip should not be missed if he manages further performances around the country.

Reviews by Richard Beck

503 Theatre St

Foxes

★★★★★
Queen's Theatre Hornchurch

The Witchfinder’s Sister

★★
The Hope Theatre

Rat King

★★★★
Brockley Jack Theatre

The Idea

★★★
Young Vic Theatre

Hamlet

★★★
Finborough Theatre

How to Survive an Apocalypse

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

His name is Gavrilo Princip. He is the young assassin that shot the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. He fired the shot that changed the world. But was it worth it ? This one hour play with live musical accompaniment explores his life, his legacy and the world he left behind forever changed. Performed and written by Oliver Yellop Directed by Anna Moors Music by Benji Hooper and Luke Benson Producer Anneta Goranovic

Most Popular See More

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets