Pip Utton's Greatest Hits

Pip Utton is a veteran of the stage, and of the Edinburgh Festival. This year he returns with Pip Utton’s Greatest Hits performing four of his one-man shows based on famous historical characters in repertoire. Pip Utton is clearly a craftsman who knows how to work an audience and to take them with him on a journey. The journey I witnessed is the story of Francis Bacon, a man about whom I readily admit that I knew virtually nothing about before seeing this show. The script (co-written with Jeremy Towler) has been nominated for or won several awards, at the Brighton and Edinburgh Fringe in 2005-2007, and it has stood the test of time.

There should not be any empty seats in the theatre when Pip Utton is on stage.

Francis Bacon remains one of the most controversial painters in recent times and would spend his mornings painting, his afternoons and evenings drinking champagne and eating, and his nights roaming around Soho dressed in fishnet stockings and a long leather coat looking for ‘rough trade’. He has been brought to life by Pip Utton, who looks back and embodies him with pathos, enlightening his audience about this extraordinary man to whom violence and abuse were a normal part of his life. He plays Bacon as if he were dead, looking back on his companions, and evaluating sex, his art and the events he has witnessed. He voices tales of others such as his Irish nanny, with a wry sense of humour, bringing these characters to life as vignettes within his larger story.

Utton’s multi-layered characterisation is charming, outrageous and thought-provoking; and by the end of the performance you feel that you know this self-proclaimed immoral man who was filled with self-loathing and bitterness and to whom love was a rare thing, and should not be publicly demonstrated.

Utton is an accomplished actor who can handle a range of emotions and subjects with apparent ease. Pip Utton also transforms himself physically and facially to embody Bacon, however, this is not an impersonation, he really does become the character – a rare talent. Furthermore he taught us about this extraordinary man to the point that by the end of the performance I felt as if I had met Bacon himself.

Whether or not you are an expert or a novice about the life of Francis Bacon (or indeed the subjects of his other one-man shows), I can guarantee that by the end of the performance you will have been educated and entertained, you will laugh, you will think and you will want to return. There should not be any empty seats in the theatre when Pip Utton is on stage.

Reviews by Jen Adamson

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The Blurb

‘The master of the one-man show’ said the Guardian. ‘The Doyen of Fringe one-man shows’ said the Telegraph. ‘A wanker in a wig’ said a rag Pip has cleansed from his memory. 25 thrilling years performing on the Fringe has brought both extreme highs and lows for Pip (mainly highs). Pip returns with four of his incredibly successful shows in repertory. Adolf – ‘searing’ (Scotsman). Playing Maggie – ‘magical’ (Canberra Times). Churchill – ‘tremendous show’ (BritishTheatreGuide.info). Bacon – ‘a gem’ (Irish Times). Stage Special award 2015. FringeReview Outstanding Theatre Award 2015.