The Assembly Rooms
From 11 August 2012 to 26 August 2012
Review by Robin Strapp
Pip Utton is a consummate performer. His new play Churchill is a delightful, intelligent insight into the life of Winston Churchill.
The play starts in Parliament Square with Utton as the statue of Churchill on his plinth. When the chimes of Big Ben strike thirteen, an occurrence that happens only once a year, the statue comes alive and descends from the plinth to indulge himself in three of his greatest pleasures; a glass of scotch, a cigar and listening to himself talk.
For the next sixty minutes, Utton wittily entertains the entranced audience with anecdotes and amusing memoirs of Churchill’s life.
We learn of his early childhood and his bad experiences at prep school and his father and mother, whom he calls, “a bright enchanted star”, and his devoted love of Clem, his wonderful wife.
He recalls his life in the army and of course his political career particularly during World War II. He also shares the moments of “black dog depression” when he had to recall the troops and the urgency to inspire the British people to fight back.
Utton uses some of Churchill’s famous speeches that are delivered with passion and assurance.
Churchill was bitterly disappointed when he lost the post-war election, feeling betrayed and spurned, and the black dog returned; his salvation was his painting. They were exhibited in the Royal Academy. He won the Nobel prize for Literature in 1953, was the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States and in 2002, in a BBC poll, was voted the greatest Briton in history.
This is a tremendous show beautifully performed and should not be missed. Highly recommended.