Twenty years on from his first performance, Pip Utton returns to the Fringe Festival with his one man show Adolf. Set in the last hours of World War II with the Russians about to take Berlin, it is effectively Hitler's goodbye speech to his staunchest allies.
Utton is the consummate character actor. His portrayal of the dictator utilises classic mannerisms that made him the imposing public speaker he undoubtedly was. Sharp arm movements and emphatic hand gestures are key to his depiction. These idiosyncrasies along with clever rhetoric that treats the audience as his followers meant that we almost felt complicit in just sitting there and listening. So convincing was his portrayal that people walked out as the performance went along, one only ten minutes in.
The show also contained some simple but extremely effective technical details that built the atmosphere. The uplighting stage centre created a silhouette of Utton on the floor to ceiling Nazi banner behind him as if emphasising the legend of Hitler as being bigger than the man himself. Another was that when he did start to rant there was an old microphone effect that came across the sound system creating the illusion that you were sitting at one of his infamous stadium rallies.
It takes a level of confidence in your acting and message to portray such a well renowned and hated individual yet Utton convinces as Hitler so well that at times I had to question whether somehow in some way they had just let a right wing nutcase onto the stage for the last 20 years rather than it being an act. There is an aspect of this show that I have not mentioned as it is up to you to go and discover it for yourself but all I can say is that it is some of the most powerful theatre I have seen and it was truly a privilege to watch, even if I was squirming in my seat throughout.