I, The Dictator 3 stars
New Town Theatre (Venue 7)
They were both loved by the people, both famed for their little black moustaches and, in their very different ways, great icons of their age. There the comparison ends between Charlie Chaplin and Adolph Hitler, but this one-man play by Poland's Teatre Wiczy, imagines an attempt to bring the two closer together.
Trying to adapt to the talkies while confronting an indifferent American studio system, Chaplin is nearing completion of The Great Dictator when he is approached by a Mephistopheles-like German agent by the name of Mueller. He has an offer it is hard to refuse. In return for a few tweaks to take the sting out of this anti-Nazi satire, the Fuehrer will give Chaplin a six-figure sum to run his own studio in Germany. Chaplin's dilemma is whether to stay true to his political principles or to his art.
In Romuald Wicza Pokojski's production, actor Krystian Wieczynski tells the story with a good deal of physical vigour – unexplained tap-dancing routines and all – but also little narrative development. After a promising start, I, The Dictator seems to go round in circles. Neither does Wieczynski, in his heavily accented English, fully explain his own connection as a Pole to Chaplin and Hitler, making it hard to pick apart the thinking behind a good-looking production.
Until 28 Aug
© Mark Fisher 2011
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