Terrifying, searing, transfixing, Pip Utton’s rendering of Hitler reminds us that live theatre has a unique power.
Here we have the Fuhrer in his final hours – paranoid, deluded, battling against his personal weaknesses and fears, defiant in his justification of his failed “final solution”, dreaming that it will rise again.
It is quite impossible to be anything other than totally absorbed by Utton’s performance. From the very beginning he makes us part of this astonishing, imaginative psychological drama.
This is, however, not only a powerful attempt to get within the mind of the Nazi; the play has a wider focus which is articulated through the sheer breadth of its political and historical vocabulary.
As Utton recreates Hitler’s final obscene, ranting speeches to the party faithful, he furnishes us with an anatomy of fascism; its ideological justifications, its poisoned utopias, the conditions which create the decayed economic and social soil from which it grows.
Utton’s final 15 minutes – in which he shifts from informal actor, to pub bore reactionary, back to the Nazi genocidist – is a masterstroke, a horrifying reminder of the ever-present threat of fascism which must quicken the pulse of even the most complacent in his audience.
At a time when political theatre is so often derided, Adolf reaffirms not only the worth of such drama, but also the need for it.
This review was originally published in The Scotsman on August 10 1998
© Mark Brown