I, the Dictator - Teatr Wiczy brings show to Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2011
One-man Edinburgh Festival 2011 show reimagines Charlie Chaplin
This article is from 2011.
Teatro Replika – a small fringe theatre in Madrid – is not the most obvious place to catch up with Polish company Teatr Wiczy, whose one-man show about Charlie Chaplin, I, the Dictator, plays Edinburgh throughout the Fringe. It makes more sense, however, when one discovers that the Spanish venue’s director is the Polish theatre artist Jaroslaw Bielski.
In Wiczy’s monodrama we find actor Krystian Wieczynski playing a radically reimagined Chaplin during the making of his anti-Nazi classic The Great Dictator. Consequently, the play is strongly engaged with matters of history, politics and personal psychology.
We find Chaplin filming his movie in the face of the indifference and, even, hostility of a largely isolationist American establishment, which does not want an English actor – no matter how great – dragging the United States into Europe’s war against fascism. This real-life situation created in the mind of writer/director Romuald Wicza-Pokojski is a fictional scenario in which a representative of the Hitler regime inveigles his way into Chaplin’s dressing room in Hollywood and, playing upon the actor’s isolation, attempts to buy him off with Nazi cash.
‘This show could be entitled Loneliness,’ says Wicza. ‘Chaplin is really alone, and Hitler appears like his twin brother, who has taken away his face, with its little moustache.’
The psychological aspect of the piece, and its very fictional basis, are reflected in Wieczy_ski’s performance. His Chaplin speaks (in English) with a strong Polish accent. He tap dances as he talks. He reflects his weaknesses and temptations in nudity and semi-nudity, and exorcises his ego in moments of sexual ecstasy. It is, in other words, a Chaplin who is about as far from Robert Downey Jr’s interpretation as one could imagine.
New Town Theatre, 220 0143, 6–28 Aug (not 15), 2pm, £10–£12 (£8–£10). Previews 4 & 5 Aug, £5.