‘Adolf’ (Town and Gown, 4th & 5th June)

Pip Utton is THE leading solo player strutting the boards in our time.

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars (Nae Bad)

Among the most damning things that can be said about Adolf Hitler is that he was a politician. Perhaps the most damning thing that can be said about politicians is that Adolf Hitler was one. We know that Hitler was a politician first and foremost because at the end of his 12 year reign of terror and error, the Germany that he had promised to leave stronger, happier, healthier, and wealthier was in utter ruin. Its cities had been shattered. Its youth slaughtered (yet again) on the altar of bombastic statecraft gone wrong. Its minorities piteously tormented, robbed, and murdered under the smiling guise of due process. Germany had been conquered and was occupied by the very people and nations Hitler had spent his public career vilifying. Germany would not be a single, united state again for the better part of half a century. It takes a politician to make such a god awful mess of things.

Hitler was a narcissist, a liar, a user, an abuser, intellectually shallow, personally callow. His biography is a case study in how the divine spark of a rather ordinary human being was snuffed out by a violently tyrannical parent, an indoctrinating hate-fuelled school teacher, a world indifferent to his early self-delusions of grandeur, exposure to the soul-crushing loneliness of life as an urban vagrant and the horrors of industrial warfare on the Western Front. This hapless self-involved manchild, a figure all too familiar these days, was spun by the fates into the author of atrocities great and small from which the world may never recover. Hitler became what he was because instead of seeking therapy he sought votes. He wanted unthinking adulation when he needed unrelenting help. Why would anyone vote for such a sorry specimen of putrid, pusillanimous, perversion?

Pip Utton is THE leading solo player strutting the boards in our time. No one in the business is more respected by their peers for the sheer bloody effort they bring to each game, set, match and championship. When I first reviewed ‘Pip Utton is Charles Dickens’ at EdFringe in 2011 the master was appearing in no less than three separate solo bouts – as Charles Dickens, as the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and as Adolf. It took a toll on the artist, but the art was all the more exquisite for his feat of endurance. Now, with the COVID-crisis having shuttered our theatre spaces, Utton is (naturally) among the first to return. It’s like hearing the purr of a vintage tiger moth or the growl of a perfectly maintained hurricane fighter coming out of a cloudless Duxford sky. A thing of not-so-quiet beauty. An engineering masterpiece roaring back to life.

Utton’s portrait of Hitler is pictured in the bunker in the final hours of that misspent life. Those wanting only a rehash of Bruno Ganz’ landmark and ultra-realistic performance in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s 2004 biopic ‘Downfall’ will be disappointed, as will those hoping for a return of the camp clown presented by Dick Shawn in Mel Brooks’ 1967 ‘The Producers’. Pip Utton’s ‘Adolf’ isn’t about Hitler. It’s about us.

The show is about how an expert performer can tempt us, lull us, draw us away from what we know to be right and sink us in a mire of half-baked half truths. It is sad to think how many people come away from their encounter with the ultimate politician believing that none of the health warnings apply to their own preferred pedders of political spume. Arguing that one politician is better than another is like claiming that one bucket of lukewarm vomit tastes better than another. As Dr. Ben Carson put it, “We’ve been conditioned to think that only politicians can solve our problems. But at some point, maybe we will wake up and recognize that it was politicians who created our problems.”

Given how many problems the politician Hitler created for so many people it is a feat of editorial genius that this show is as tightly packed as it is. If the production’s Director, the legendary Guy Masterson no less, were a tailor for M&S we would all be looking sharper than Sinatra on our way to the office. Masterson is a genius for getting even very heavy and cumbersome material to hang just right. For all that this is a dark tragedy, there is a light, even a breezy feel to this intense and intensely upsetting piece of theatre.

Aspects of the script are in need of a little updating. These days Prince Harry wears a mask, not a costume, and wants us all to know that he is woker than woke (and open for business). Utton is in better physical shape than any of us, so the line about a tubby little English actor is as discorant as Blackadder’s describing Hugh Laurie’s Prince Regent as fat. But what’s so impressive (if not altogether unexpected) is how well the script has held up over nearly 30 years of performance. It’s proof positive that we cannot hear its warnings too many times. Whether we choose to heed those warnings on the other hand…


Reviewer: Dan Lentell

ALL our Town & Gown coverage? Click here!

Town and Gown, Cambridge – 2021 Season Interview: Shell Suit Cher AND Believe In Bingo & Bingo at Tiffany’s with Audrey Heartburn!

“Years of dramatic disco dancing and rolling around dance floors has not been kind to my lumbar region.”

WHO: Tracey Collins: Writer and performer

WHAT (Cher): “Imagine if Cher left showbiz behind, swapped leather for leisure wear and became a shell suit wearing, chain smoking, bingo host…

Well, imagine no longer as award-winning performer Tracey Collins brings her brand new weird and wonderful character to the stage for SHELL SUIT CHER: I Believe in Bingo! 

She’s flammable and her balls are on fire! 

* Laugh, dance and play to win life-changing prizes!

* Singalong to all Cher’s hit songs hilariously reworked!

* Be amazed as Shell Suit Cher unzips the story of her wild journey from Vegas to Mecca and beyond! 

She’s got balls babe!

WHAT (Audrey): “Daaarlings!

Calling all dream makers, heart breakers and bingo lovers!

Join award winning character comedian Tracey Collins (Tina T’urner Tea Lady) as she hosts Bingo at Tiffany’s with Audrey Heartburn! An evening of hilarious bingo games, raucous singalongs and glamorous dancing!

Laugh, dance and play to win luxury prizes as Audrey spins her deluxe cage of bingo balls and shakes her maracas to a marvellous party soundtrack.

Fresh from performing all over the UK, including a sell-out Edinburgh Festival Fringe run in 2019, Audrey Heartburn leaves Hollywood once again in search of love and laughter in the real world.”

WHERE: Town and Gown Pub & Theatre, Cambridge

WHEN (Cher): 11th June 2021 and 3 other dates

WHEN (Audrey): 2nd July and 27th August 2021

MORE: Click Here!


What does Cambridge mean to you?

I adore Cambridge! It’s such a beautiful place. I have wonderful memories of going on a guided punt river tour in the winter – which was very romantic. Taking in the architecture and then sitting in a cosy pub for hours.

Tell us about your show.

I perform two regular events at The Town & Gown Theatre. ‘Bingo at Tiffanys with Audrey Heartburn’ and ‘Shell Suit Cher – Believe In Bingo’. The shows merge musical character comedy performance with bingo games.

I’ve been writing and performing character comedy for almost a decade now, and in recent years I have really enjoyed merging my heightened, ridiculous character comedy with songs, games and plenty of audience interaction. Its a chance for the audience to let go, have fun, play together and win some fabulous prizes!

The two shows differ in the concept, story and style. ‘Bingo at Tiffanys’ is a melodramatic, classy, night of entertainment delight! Whereas ‘Believe In Bingo’ is a wild, trashy evening hosted by Cher in a shell suit with pop-rock anthem parody songs and a lot of costume changes!

What kind of art makes you ‘Get Your Coat On’ and go see it?

Oooh I am a huge fan of mixed bill variety shows. I especially love Pull The Other One in London, where you’ll always find incredible creativity and freedom. I love venues such as Bethnal Green Working Mens Club and the eclectic shows they curate. I also adore Lenny Beige and his band of freaks – he always puts on an amazing show.

I love The Edinburgh Festival Fringe and really hoping to return again. Nothing beats having no plan and wandering into a show in a sweaty cave and being mesmerised by an artist/ company you’ve never heard of.

You’re the age you are now. What’s the one thing you wish you could tell your younger self? What’s the one thing you’d like your older self to remember about you now?

I would tell my younger self to look after your back! Years of dramatic disco dancing and rolling around dance floors has not been kind to my lumbar region.

I would like my older self to remember this time of creativity and freedom. To cherish the random and ridiculous memories.


LIKE WHAT YOU JUST READ? FOLLOW US ON TWITTER! FIND US ON FACEBOOK! OR SIGN UP TO OUR MAILING LIST!

INTERESTED IN BEING INTERVIEWED TOO? CLICK HERE!

Town and Gown, Cambridge – 2021 Season Interview: Naughty Boy

“I wanted to tackle this belief that everyone seems to have an excuse for their behaviour these days, rather than accepting that sometimes their are no excuses.”

WHO: Eddy Brimson: Actor/writer/producer

WHAT: “Acclaimed writer and comedian Eddy Brimson presents his debut play Naughty Boy to the theatre in this brand new stage adaptation. This one-man play brings Brimson’s natural wit into the darkly hedonistic world of Joe, a mysteriously complicated character whose life is full of twists and turns, violence and compassion, lies, and reality. All of which exposes some uncomfortable questions about both responsibility, and truth.”

WHERE: Town and Gown Pub & Theatre, Cambridge

WHEN: 23rd – 24th June

MORE: Click Here!


What does Cambridge mean to you?

For me Cambridge means football away days and having the laces taken out of my boots by the police. Strawberry Fair (What I can remember of it), and dying on my arse here at the start of my comedy career…. And the Cambridge Folk Festival as my old man played it year after year. I loved it.

Tell us about your show.

Well don’t bring the kids as it is a bit full on. I first performed the play at the Edinburgh Festival in 2019 and the reviews exceeded all expectations. My main focus was on the writing. In the play I take you from mental institution to a hedonistic weekend away full of sex drugs and violence. The piece looks at nature nurture, them and us and mental health. I wanted to tackle this belief that everyone seems to have an excuse for their behaviour these days, rather than accepting that sometimes their are no excuses. The play also looks into love, loyalty, identity and the role of class in society. I’m very proud of how it has turned out, and the fact that people are left with as many questions as the piece provides answers.

What kind of art makes you ‘Get Your Coat On’ and go see it?

I love all forms of art. I am a comedian by trade, and although I am pretty scripted I love the absurd. But I also love to see art that pushes a message, be it in print or on stage. Music seems to have lost it’s way since the days of punk and ska, but bands such as The Newtown Aces are starting to use music to get people thinking again.

You’re the age you are now. What’s the one thing you wish you could tell your younger self? What’s the one thing you’d like your older self to remember about you now?

Ha … Loyalty is all well and good, but if you are going to devote your life to one thing then pick Barcelona rather than Watford Football Club. I would tell my younger self to always carry a spare pair of jeans and wet wipes in the car … Which is the same thing I’d tell my older self to remember, but maybe double up on it once you pass 45.

I would also tell anyone of any age that creativity never stops. And we are here to create.


LIKE WHAT YOU JUST READ? FOLLOW US ON TWITTER! FIND US ON FACEBOOK! OR SIGN UP TO OUR MAILING LIST!

INTERESTED IN BEING INTERVIEWED TOO? CLICK HERE!

Town and Gown, Cambridge – 2021 Season Interview: Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope

“The student drama scene hugely influenced my choice of career. I made lifelong friends. And sank enough ale to flood Parker’s Piece.”

WHO: Mark Farrelly, Writer / Performer / Producer

WHAT: “Fresh from its Off-Broadway debut and milestone 100th performance, Mark Farrelly’s hugely acclaimed solo comes to the Town and Gown Theatre.

From a conventional upbringing to global notoriety via The Naked Civil Servant, Quentin Crisp was one of the most memorable figures of the twentieth century. Openly gay as early as the 1930s, Quentin spent decades being beaten up on London’s streets for his refusal to be anything less than himself. His courage, and the philosophy that evolved from those experiences, inspire to the present day.

Naked Hope depicts Quentin at two phases of his extraordinary life: alone in his Chelsea flat in the 1960s, certain that life has passed him by, and thirty years later, giving a performance of his one man show An Evening with Quentin Crisp in New York. Packed with witty gems on everything from cleaning (“Don’t bother – after the first four years the dirt won’t get any worse”) to marriage (“Is there life after marriage? The answer is no”), Naked Hope is a glorious, uplifting celebration of the urgent necessity to be your true self.

Mark Farrelly’s West End credits include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opposite Matthew Kelly. He is directed by EastEnders star Linda Marlowe (Berkoff’s Women).”

WHERE: Town and Gown Pub & Theatre, Cambridge

WHEN: Thursday 27th May 2021 and 2 other dates

MORE: Click Here!


What does Cambridge mean to you?

I studied English Literature at Jesus College in the late nineties. I’ve always found Cambridge magical. It took me three attempts to get accepted. So once I arrived, I was on a mission to make the most of it. The student drama scene hugely influenced my choice of career. I made lifelong friends. And sank enough ale to flood Parker’s Piece. I was so happy there that when I returned to Civvy Street in 2001, I found it very hard to cope, and spiralled into depression. Ordinary life seemed so aggressively mundane. But I have no regrets about overdosing at the Fountain of Pleasure. It was a heady, life-affirming privilege.

Tell us about your show.

The show, which I wrote, is a salute to the courage of the individual to be themselves. Quentin Crisp wittily and bravely emphasised his flamboyant gayness at a time when it was illegal. That’s an extraordinary thing to look back on from the vantage of 2021. But the show is also a timely nudge in the ribs for anybody who may be slipping into conformity and not letting their sparkly, dangerous genius shine before it’s too late.

The first night at The Town and Gown will be the 125th performance. It delights me how much hunger there is for Quentin’s message of hope, his determination to meet adversity with what he calls “laughter in the dark”.

What kind of art makes you ‘Get Your Coat On’ and go see it?

I have a passion for solo work, because of its immediacy and intensity. Sarah-Louise Young, and her amazing “An Evening Without Kate Bush”, are quite something. She is directing my next solo, about Derek Jarman, which debuts at The Town and Gown in August.

But I can’t lie…I go to the theatre infrequently. I much prefer sitting on my sofa, drinking Puligny-Montrachet and dreaming up ideas for new pieces. Going to the theatre can feel a bit like a busman’s holiday for me…I’m performing so often that I like a break from it whenever possible.

You’re the age you are now. What’s the one thing you wish you could tell your younger self? What’s the one thing you’d like your older self to remember about you now?

To younger self: you will survive. You will weather the storms of rejection, depression and suicidal impulse, and one day your hot, furious little ego will find its quietus and the true you will arise. Nothing will be wasted, nothing forgotten, and everything will come when the timing is deliciously, inexplicably right.

To older self: you were living, breathing, feeling your dream day after day.


LIKE WHAT YOU JUST READ? FOLLOW US ON TWITTER! FIND US ON FACEBOOK! OR SIGN UP TO OUR MAILING LIST!

INTERESTED IN BEING INTERVIEWED TOO? CLICK HERE!

Town and Gown, Cambridge – 2021 Season Interview: The Nobodies

“The play explores the ‘us vs them’ mentality of the class divide, and the politicisation of vigilante activists. We look at the feeling of restlessness in the working classes in a time where class divisions are widening, the poor are getting poorer, and Brexit threatens to tear the country apart.”

WHO: Sam Edmunds, Co-Director & Co-Producer

WHAT: A town is in turmoil. A hospital is closing. And an MP is dead on the train tracks… Accident? Or opportunity?

When a local hospital announces its closure, panic ensues. Healthcare Assistant Rhea is forced to look for work elsewhere. Local lad Aaron worries about his mum’s treatment in the cancer unit. And Curtis just isn’t sure where he’s going to sleep. But when the three witness a horrific accident, a rare opportunity presents itself. As a dangerous decision triggers a wild chain of events, Rhea, Aaron and Curtis soon find themselves gathering power, influence and infamy – and inspiring a cohort of vigilante activists. What does it take to enact real change? And what would you sacrifice to keep it?”

WHERE: Town and Gown Pub & Theatre, Cambridge

WHEN: Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th June 2021

MORE: Click Here!


What does Cambridge mean to you?

Bringing The Nobodies to Cambridge will actually be my first time visiting! I have heard lots of wonderful things however and I am really excited to explore the city and take in its amazing architecture and culture. I’m also really excited by the theatre scene in Cambridge, which is renown for producing incredible artists. I hope during my time there I can meet some likeminded creatives and learn more about the arts scene in the city. Having spoken about Cambridge to Karl from The Town & Gown, I was thrilled to hear that the city is actively engaging in local politics and that there is a buzz in younger people especially to implement change within their local community. That is really what The Nobodies is about and I’m sure it will resonate with those who come to see it.

Tell us about your show.

The Nobodies is written by award-winning playwright and screenwriter Amy Guyler. Amy is a regular writer for East Enders and recently was voted top of the Brit List for ‘The Jude Problem’. It stars David Angland (I Like The Way You Move– Frantic Assembly), Joseph Reed (The Wipers Times – Arts Theatre & UK Tour) and Lucy Simpson (The Happy Warrior – Harrogate Theatre). The creative team consists of many different professionals including Sound Designer Mekel Edwards who was the previous production manager on the New York & UK Tour of The Babershop Chronicles by The National Theatre. It is produced by Chalk Line Theatre company who are a multi-award-winning company based in Luton who tour work both nationally and internationally. Chalk Line are an Associate Company of The Lion and Unicorn Theatre, as well as a Graduate Emerging Company of The New Diorama. The company is run by Co-Artistic Directors Sam Edmunds and Vikesh Godhwani.

The Nobodies first premiered at The Vault Festival where it received the COMMON Award 2020 presented by COMMON and The Pleasance Theatre. It performed to great critical acclaim receiving multiple 5* and 4* star reviews as well as being one of Lyn Gardner’s Top Picks for the festival, a British Theatre Recommended Show and one of A Younger Theatre’s Top Shows of 2020. It is now embarking on a UK summer tour and is published with Salamander Street Publishing.

The play explores the ‘us vs them’ mentality of the class divide, and the politicisation of vigilante activists. We look at the feeling of restlessness in the working classes in a time where class divisions are widening, the poor are getting poorer, and Brexit threatens to tear the country apart. Fuelled by the ‘taking back the power’ mantra, the play capitalises on the need for action for those feeling impotent in the current political climate.

Writer Guyler said, ‘The Nobodies follows three characters who – initially, at least – just want to make the world a better place. They want to help their own community. I think we all know what that feels like in today’s climate. I was tired of working-class stories being doom and gloom. This is a new version of our story – a version where we win. …Almost. ‘

In a time where political and social unrest is in abundance, The Nobodies aims to inspire communities to speak up against systems which do not represent them and to take action to provoke change, (no matter how small or large that action or change may be).

What kind of art makes you ‘Get Your Coat On’ and go see it?

I am a huge fan of contemporary work which tackles socio-political issues. Some of my favourite plays include: Good Dog by Arinze Kene and The Angry Brigade by James Graham. I like theatre which amplifies narratives of underrepresented communities, telling stories which do not often get given the platform they deserve. I like bold, visually striking work, often combining physical expression and intricate designs to compliment the text. Rhum & Clay’s recent production of Mistero Buffo was an exemplary piece of theatre which uses all the styles of theatre I love. I’m more a festival, off-west goer than West End theatre.

I love going to The Vault Festival in London or up to The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where people really create new, challenging work, pushing the expectations of what theatre can be. I also love venues such as the The New Diorama, The Pleasance and Soho and companies like Gecko and Complicite. My taste in theatre isn’t too specific or fussy however, I like experiencing a multitude of work, engaging with lots of different genres.

You’re the age you are now. What’s the one thing you wish you could tell your younger self? What’s the one thing you’d like your older self to remember about you now?

I would tell myself that believe it or not, you are going to grow up and make theatre haha! No my advice would be, to take risks, have fun, don’t be afraid of being silly and try not to compare yourself to others, your journey will be hugely different to everyone else’s.

I’d like my older self to remember how hard I worked to keep making theatre and all the amazing memories I made with all of the incredible artists I worked with.


LIKE WHAT YOU JUST READ? FOLLOW US ON TWITTER! FIND US ON FACEBOOK! OR SIGN UP TO OUR MAILING LIST!

INTERESTED IN BEING INTERVIEWED TOO? CLICK HERE!