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Corsham Festival: The Actor's Perspective and Chaplin
12:21pm Monday 30th June 2008 in Leisure
At an age when some men take to fast cars, wild extravagance and run off with their secretaries, Pip Utton closed his jewellery business 12 years ago to follow a dream to be a professional actor.
He had no formal training although he had enjoyed success as an amateur actor over several years.
After a successful outing to the Edinburgh Festival with a one-man show about comedian Tony Hancock, he confidently waited for the telephone to ring, it remained silent for 12 months.
Mr Utton told the story of his acting life at a lunch and listen at Corsham Festival, prior to an evening performance of his latest one-man production, Chaplin.
He told his life story with disarming self-deprecating humour.
His biggest hit to date is Adolf, a searing recreation of Hitler's final days in the Berlin bunker. Mr Utton has taken the show around the world, and three times to Berlin, where ironically it is particularly well received.
His own favourite is Bacon, another one-man drama, about the twentieth century artist Francis Bacon, which earned him almost as many accolades.
He took us into the mind of an actor-writer, and revealed some of the backstage secrets.
Chaplin stands on its own, but the prelude added another dimension.
It is a very clever piece of theatre in which Chaplin, on Christmas Day 1977, the day he died, is reflecting on his life and bemoaning the state of the modern world, as many an 88 year old does.
Up pops the little tramp, his finest creation and the character who endeared him to the world.
Chaplin, who had a wretched start in life and rose to fame and fortune through hard work, and talent, is bitter that the tramp is better loved than the actor. His later films, without the tramp were nowhere near as popular.
The piece becomes a dialogue between the tramp and his creator and is punctuated with filmed episodes, in which Mr Utton recreates the tramp role. He also pops in and out of the screen, which is brilliantly executed and very funny.
And there was a nice final touch. As the show ended "Charlie" invited the audience to follow him outside where he climbed into a 1916 Hudson limousine and was driven away waving to the crowds.
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