One man play written by and starring Simon Bradbury.
Chaplin is a critically acclaimed one-man play starring Simon Bradbury as the famous silent screen star immersed in the creation of his anti-fascist epic "The Great Dictator." Billed by critics as a "multi-media extravaganza," the play is a unique experience showing Chaplin isolated in his screening room warring with the two main characters of the film; the ailing Tramp and the emerging Hynkel (caricature of Hitler).
Showing Simon interacting with pre-recorded video of himself as Hynkel and the Tramp on screen, the play explores Chaplin's inner world and the callousness of the creative process.
CHAPLIN or THE DOPPELGANGER:
The time is 1940 and the place is Chaplin’s apartment/screening room at his studios in Los Angeles. Chaplin is in the middle of filming his epic spoof of Hitler, ‘The Great Dictator’ and in his mind it is not going well. Although most of Europe is already in the hands of the Third Reich, the US has still not entered the war. Trade with Germany is still strong and there is a distinct pro-fascist sentiment in the country. So much so that the other studio heads, all Jewish, are keeping well away from the subject of Hitler for fear of some kind of back-lash. Interrupted by the voices of his studio colleagues via intercom, Chaplin broods alone in his screening room and agonizes about the end to his film. Fearing Hynkel (the Hitler character) to be running away with the film, Chaplin feels like he must give the Tramp character, now a Jewish barber, a little help to balance out the aesthetics of his film. He has therefore composed a speech which the Tramp will orate to the masses calling for fight for freedom and democracy. Friends, colleagues and partners are wary of the speech seeing it as left wing propaganda. And a speech of this nature? For the Tramp? It would surely kill him off for good as an iconic silent film star. Buckling under this considerable pressure, over worked and despondent, Chaplin begins to hallucinate. For, during his examination of the Hynkel rushes on the screen, the character begins to talk back to Chaplin questioning the choice of having the Tramp, an old silent has-been, speak at all. Furthermore, Hynkel the orator and master of the spoken word claims that the world now belongs to him. Thus evolves a battle between both sides of Chaplin, the Bolshevik Tramp and Hynkel the Fascist demagogue and self-preservationist. Using pre-recorded film of Bradbury as the Tramp and Hynkel the play is a symbolic fantasy that, among other things, explores the savagery of the creative process and the duality of human nature.
HISTORY OF PRODUCTION:
Directed by the author the play had a workshop production at the Shaw Festival under the auspices of the Academy in the year 2000. It subsequently went into development with Neil Munro and Simon Clemo and was programmed for the 2002 Shaw Festival Courthouse season. It inaugurated the new Shaw mandate to incorporate plays by living authors. Simon Bradbury played the title role and members of the Shaw ensemble played the voices of other characters coming through the intercom and some characters on screen.
Neil Munro directed, Simon Clemo did the video, Trevor Hughes the sound, Kevin Lamotte did the lighting, and David Boechler the design. The play was a huge success and garnered box office receipts of close to $290,000.
After the premiere the play was work shopped again by the author and played at the St. Catherine Courthouse theatre in preparation for the US premiere in Pittsburgh. The play is still very much alive and can be cheaply produced. For specific production requirements and bookings please contact Simon.
"This one-man show is a tour de force of creative ingenuity."
- Joanna manning, Welland Tribune
"The intensity with which Bradbury plays Chaplin makes his performance one of the most powerful seen on the Shaw stage."
- Sean Coffey, Niagara Advance
"The show is filled with delights as Bradbury pays brilliant tribute to Chaplin’s physical gifts and adds one or two of his own."
- Robert Crew, Toronto Star
"Bradbury is the champion actor of scrawny underdogs who here resists all temptation to play for sympathy but gets it anyway."
- Robert Cushman, National Post
"Bradbury and inventive director Neil Munro have crafted a seamless spectacle incorporating both film and mime."
- Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail
"The sheer vigour and brilliance, the emotional and comic
conviction of Bradbury’s solo performance is staggering…
He is never less than fascinating to watch."
- Jamie Portman, Southam News
"The play demonstrates Bradbury’s talents as an actor and as a writer in this bravura one-man show."
- Herbert M, Simpson, The Rochester City Paper