Playing with Fire?
Deaglán de Bréadún
It looks like the present writer is not the only one who doesn’t appreciate the “context” of certain jokes relating to the Nazi period in history (see my previous posts about Tommy Tiernan.) Author Peter Sheridan had a difficulty with the production called Adolf in the Tivoli Theatre in Dublin. Herewith the report in The Irish Times by Arts Editor Deirdre Falvey:-
Peter Sheridan: Is it all a question of
context? (Photograph by Frank Miller)
Writer and director Peter Sheridan interrupted a play and other audience members walked out of the Tivoli Theatre on Thursday night in protest at the opening performance of Adolf , a one-man show written and performed by Pip Utton.
Described in promotional material as a “an acute anatomy of fascism; its ideological justifications, its poisoned utopias”, Utton first performs as Hitler “ranting”, then changes to a hate-filled character who tells racist jokes.
“What I do is manipulate the audience to make them smile or laugh at the sexist or racist bits,” Utton said. After all the “racist malarkey”, he said he turns it around on the audience, adding: “I don’t need a second coming, I never went away” to make people aware “we all have a potential little Hitler inside of us”.
While Utton was in full racist flow, greeted by laughter from some sections of the audience, Peter Sheridan stood and called on the crowd for tolerance, and left five minutes before the end. He spoke on Liveline yesterday, with Utton and other audience members who rang the radio show.
Utton said later that he regretted Sheridan walked out, especially that he left before the closing message. He claimed Sheridan arrived 20 minutes after the show had begun at 7.30pm.
Sheridan said the “horrible, reprehensible, Nick Griffin-type character was very well done”, but that he felt the show was inviting a response from the audience. While “disturbing theatre can be good, if you are disturbed in the right way”, he felt it wasn’t clear enough as an attack on fascism.
“When you are dealing with incendiary material like that, you need to be sure the audience leaves the theatre knowing the violence of this message is put in context, and for me the context wasn’t right last night.”
Utton said he credits his audience with intelligence. Sheridan said: “If a show is working, there are points that would be met with silence, not hollers of laughter.”