A single actor, Jack Klaff, tell a series of interconnected stories about the most influential minds of the 20th century in Icons. This includes dictators, physicists, presidents and activists, many of whom you would recognise, and some of whom you don’t. He does so by speaking from their perspectives, as well as some of the women in their lives, even to the point of playing both sides of a conversation. It is a play about relationships, communication, and life.

You never end up very invested

The problem with featuring such a huge and diverse range of characters is that, as an audience member, you never end up very invested in any of them, especially since none of them are present throughout. Each appears only briefly for their segment, with an accompanying portrait displayed behind, before the focus of the performance moves on. This results in little-to-no emotional impact in the moments which are clearly intended to have one. It becomes confusing and leaves no room for the inattentive spectator – a momentary distraction can cost you the names of the current principles and therefore, unless you can recognise them from their photographs, their significance.

It also isn’t a production for those uninterested in history as the very nature of it relies upon an appreciation for it and even some prior knowledge. I found myself very glad to have studied the Cold War as this at least illuminated me on some of the events referred to on stage, although my companion was not so lucky. She left the auditorium with more questions than answers and not in a good way. For a play aiming to enrich your perception of real life figures it never tells you very much about them. While I wasn’t expecting a lecture, I would have appreciated being saved desperately trying to remember the extent of Kennedy’s involvement in the Bay of Pigs catastrophe, or the specifics of Ghandi’s career. Of course, by the time I had given up on or managed to dredge up enough information to contextualise the interaction on stage, the action had moved on.

In its globe and decade spanning exploration, Icons is very creative and does go some way to imbue you with an awareness of the complex tapestry of life, but it doesn’t do so comfortably, and succeeds in little else.

Reviews by Monica Yell


The Signalman

The Space UK


London, England

My Boy Danny

A Company 6 Scots

Short Film Night

Brighton Dome

Super Sunday

Theatre Royal Brighton

Stick Man


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



The Blurb

During the 20th Century, the human race hung by a slender thread. Jack Klaff's play takes 12 influential males of C20 and recounts matters such as the atomic bomb, WW2 and the Cuban missile crisis. Featuring Hitler, Stalin, Einstein, Kennedy and Gandhi, their stories are told by the women that knew them, offering funny insights and devastating indictments. But as C21 unravels, have the lessons been learnt? “The best thing I have seen in years” (Sunday Times). “The best exponent of the solo show in this country” (The Independent). Brighton Fringe Award Winners 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018.

Most Popular See More

Come From Away

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £29.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets