ONE of the most anticipated shows of the 2016 Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, ‘In The Fuehrer’s Face’, was performed at Salford’s King’s Arms on Saturday (July 23) afternoon.
Experienced actor and stage performer Patricia Hartshorne displays her many talents in this one woman cabaret show all about none other than Adolf Hitler.
Taking its name from a 1943 American propaganda film starring Donald Duck, ‘In The Fuehrer’s Face’ is a 50-minute mix of stand-up comedy, songs, both funny and poignant, and captivating stories.
Hitler, synonymous with the atrocities he committed, is a rich source of material, but material that has to be handled with care.
Hartshorne’s choice of anecdotes in this respect is superb, focussing on those who, as she put it, gave Hitler one in the eye.
Her anecdotes are fascinating, always keeping the audience hooked by seamlessly transitioning between a melange of diverse characters.
There’s no real costume changes, besides a few hats and, of course, Hitler’s signature toothbrush tash, but this isn’t necessary due to Hartshorne’s acting prowess.
Hartshorne’s multilingual talents are also on display, performing songs and bit parts of monologues in French and German.
Listening to some of the show in something other than the audience’s mother tongue adds an extra dimension, helping the audience to buy into the historical characters by bringing them to life.
Songs come at regular intervals throughout. Some are funny, such as the classic ditty about Hitler’s infamous monorchism (or his one ball) and the other about the master race, in which Hartshorne encourages the audience to blow raspberries upon raising her two fingers during the chorus.
Other songs were relatively heartfelt. A rendition of La Complainte Du Partisan, a French song originally by Anna Marly, is sung beautifully and changes the entire atmosphere from jovial to reflective, almost as if a switch had been flicked.
A dirge about Hitler’s wife, Eva Braun, had a similar despondent effect later in the show.
Not only is the switch flicked back, but the fuse box explodes.
The risk involved in such a stunt does pay off; helped by the content of the rest of the show, but one would certainly advise her not to wear them whilst walking down the street on a gusty day.
The stories told are claimed to be true, and in amongst them are little titbits of Nazi history, some of which are so ludicrous that they earn a laugh themselves without needing a corresponding gag.
Despite this, there are plenty of jokes, particularly at the beginning, helping to warm the audience up, with Hartshorne’s assured delivery creating light ripples of laughter. A joke about a certain Mr Donald Trump however, got a bigger reaction.
The show finishes on a repeat singalong of the Master Race, and, although the show has poignant touches, the good old hand gesture rounds up the show rather well.
In The Fuerher’s Face manages to look at a well-covered subject from a whole new angle, with Hartshorne proving herself to be a brilliant character actress capable of providing seriousness as well as silliness.