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Against the wall

`Adolf' was a chilling warning against intolerance


THE BHASKARA Auditorium at the Birla Science Centre was the perfect setting for Adolf, a solo act by Pip Utton about Hitler's last hours in his Berlin bunker, as one had to go down to the venue giving a feeling of going underground. The hall was filled to capacity with enthusiasts spilling on to the aisles. When the lights came on it was difficult to suppress the little shiver as the most hated figure of the twentieth century, Adolf Hitler, came on stage.

There he was in sharp relief in his khaki suit and Nazi armband against a mammoth black and red swastika ranting and raving about the "other" - the Jew, the Slav, the communist, the negro, the mentally deficient, the old and the infirm. Telling his faithful followers to leave, Hitler propounds his favourite theories of the Jew being the cancer of society, of the brutally simple way of getting rid of problems, of superiority of race and gender.

One is reminded of the rally sequence in The Wall. While In the Flesh had an intoxicating rock star glamour (Gerald Scarfe rules!!), Adolf made one ponder how this slightly ridiculous Chaplinesque figure held the world to ransom with such bizarre concepts.

The play then moves to its second act where Utton takes off his wig and moustache, bums a fag off the audience and becomes super matey. The jokes come thick and fast about every kind of demographic group from the Palestinians to the Jews, the British to Asian immigrant with local references like Bal Thackeray and "if we bulldozed the slums India would be really shining" thrown in for good measure. After the intensity of the first act, the audience laughs in relief. And then comes the sting as Utton morphs back to Hitler and says the chilling "I don't need a second coming. I never went away." And one realises with a slightly sick feeling that the laughter was the sound of bigotry and intolerance.

Directed by Guy Masterson, Utton wrote Adolf based on Mein Kampf and Table Talk. Sponsored by ICICI and hospitality by Taj Krishna, the play proved it was possible to be entertained while exercising those brain cells.

MAC

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