The Street Theatre to 9 February 2017
Review by Len Power 7 February 2017
While Winston Churchill lay dying in England in 1965, I was on school holidays with relatives in Sydney. As bulletins on his deteriorating condition were issued in the news, I was puzzled and shocked by my aunt’s anger about the man and the attention he was receiving. In her view he was a mass murderer with no redeeming qualities.
Pip Utton’s monodrama about Churchill doesn’t flinch from addressing this view held by many as a result of the failed Gallipoli campaign in World War One. It is intensely moving in the play to see and hear Churchill’s personal reflections on this military disaster.
In the play, Big Ben chimes and strikes 13. Once a year for just over an hour the statues of the great statesmen in Parliament Square, London, England, come alive again. Winston Churchill descends from his plinth to indulge himself in three of his greatest pleasures: a glass of Scotch, a cigar and listening to himself talk.
He talks of his childhood, his parents, his education, his army life, his marriage, his painting, writing and bricklaying, his appetites and, of course, he talks of his many years at the centre of the world political stage especially during two world wars.
Pip Utton’s play and performance as Churchill is very entertaining, often quite funny and at times very moving. Instead of being just a remote political figure in TV documentaries, Pip Utton achieves an amazing intimacy with his audience as he provides this opportunity for us to spend time with the human being behind the media image. The highlight of the play was Utton’s delivery of Churchill’s World War Two ‘Finest Hour’ speech.
This is a great opportunity to see one of Great Britain’s finest performers of monodramas. Pip Utton will also be giving his performance as Margaret Thatcher from Friday 10th February during his stay at The Street Theatre.
Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7’s ‘Artcetera’ program from 9am on Saturdays as well as on other selected Artsound programs.