The Soloist

The Soloist

British theatre person Pip Utton brings his edgy and popular stage alter-egos — Hitler and Churchill — to India

He is the half-human,half-beast Quasimodo whose sufferings can make you weep. He is The Tramp,stripping off the famous bowler and moustache,along with his screen myths,to reveal the person underneath. Pip Utton is a critically acclaimed solo actor and playwright in the UK,known for solos such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame,Charles Dickens and Charlie Chaplin. The 61-year-old is also the former Vice Chairperson of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The “master of one-man show” in Europe will bring his two famous acts (who were also each other’s nemesis in history),Adolf and Churchill,as a part of “Going Solo: An International Theatre Festival”,which begins today. Excerpts from a telephone interview:

Jeweller-turned-playwright and actor

I was a jeweller for a very long time but then I got terribly bored. Twenty years ago,I got this opportunity for a solo performance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. That first performance made me realise I could do it professionally. I was in my 40s when I joined theatre,a ‘mid-life crisis’,I call it. I’ve been doing this for 18 years now and it’s been a dream. It sounds clichéd but I am living a dream.

On playing powerful figures from history and literature

When you start off with no training and theatre background,nobody will give you an interview or an audition. So I tried to make it work myself. I depict prominent figures in life and literature. There are more than two dimensions to their personality and I think about these aspects a lot. This is what fascinates me. Moreover,if I did a solo called ‘Pip’,no one would want to watch it.

On Adolf,his longest running show

I’ve been performing Adolf for 16 years now and it’s been a massive success. There have been instances when people have objected or walked out,but those have been very few. I’m using the role of Hitler to get across points of anti-racism and anti-prejudice. He is the biggest example of a racist.

On performing in India and future projects

This is actually my third time in the country and I love it here. I first came 10 years ago with Adolf. Churchill is a new show. However,this time,I have changed some bits to fit the Indian context. Last time,I had references of Bal Thackeray in Adolf. You’ll have to come and find out what’s new this time. Apart from the tour,I am working on two new projects — Casanova and Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher is going to be my first female solo and it’s going to be quite a challenge. The two scripts are in their early stages right now and will be ready early next year.