In an imagined monologue during the hour before Hitler’s suicide in the Berlin Bunker, this one man show attempts to penetrate the heart and mind of the “maniac of ferocious genius” (Churchill) as he contemplates his past, present and future in moods that charm and repel in equal measure.
Written and performed by Bridport based actor Paul Webster, the show has toured nationally to much acclaim and been six times to the Edinburgh Fringe, where it was put on the “Best of the Fest” list.
Paul Webster was born in Bradford, Yorkshire in the year of Appeasement – 1938 – thus his formative years were with World War and Mr. Hitler, who would be mocked in the playground as a distant bogeyman, right arm extended, left forefinger under the nose. Later at Bradford Grammar School, where he would go up for his Art Prize in the wake of huge applause for one David Hockney, he was further inspired to examine the Great Dictator by his Jewish German teacher, who recommended the book “Hitler – A Study in Tyranny” by an Old Boy of the school, Sir Alan Bullock. He visited us to lecture on the July Bomb Plot 1944 and vividly acted out all the grisly bits. Montgomery of Alamein also came to tell us “How I beat Wommel”, with battle-lines drawn on a blackboard. Leni Riefenstahl’s great films of Hitler’s Germany in the Thirties were a further seminal influence. The wheels were then set in motion for the writing of his One Man Show some years later.
In 1950, he started as a young actor at the BBC in Manchester, performing in “Children’s Hour” plays and later in dramas, documentaries and poetry – reading. He then studied Modern Languages at Manchester University, taught briefly at its prestigious Grammar School (which produced about this period Sir Ben Kingsley and Sir Nicholas Hytner) and finally became an actor/director for seven years at its Library Theatre. He was by now married with two sons.
His heart’s desire from the beginning had been to act with the Royal Shakespeare Company and this desire was finally achieved in 1978 He stayed for 16 years! Freelance work subsequently included “The Woman in Black” at the Fortune and on tour; “St. Joan” at the Strand with Imogen Stubbs; and “The Visit” at Chichester with Lauren Bacall. A brief return to his old stamping – ground in Manchester produced a Best Actor award for a performance in David Storey’s “Home”. With all this continual “shouting at night” in the theatre, there has been very little space for TV work, though he did manage to squeeze in a nasty Judge in the final episode of “Foyle’s War”. Another nasty Judge sent down Susan Carter in “The Archers”, where Paul keeps popping up periodically in various guises, most recently as Peggy’s nice retired schoolmaster friend, Ted, a relationship that currently has been retired to the back burner, perhaps never to return!
Paul and his wife Margaret have recently acquired a property in West Bay, just yards from the sea, and rejoice in their good fortune. They have long been in love with the area.
Friday 1 February, 7.30pm – in BAC’s Arts Garden Café
Tickets £10 adult/ £9 members/ £8 concessions BOOK ONLINE HERE