Chaplin at Gateway Theatre
Review by: Angel McNamara
February 14, 2007
Charlie Chaplin Goes to War, also known as Chaplin: The Trial of Charles Spencer Chaplin, Esq. at the 2002 Shaw Festival in Ontario, is about Chaplin’s writing process of The Great Dictator. This one-man play is set in 1939 at Chaplin’s screening/dressing room at Chaplin studios. Simon Bradbury, who also wrote this play with Dan Kamin, plays Chaplin during his artistic struggle to finish this film. His personal struggle became so intense that the “rushes” start to talk to him on the screen as well as voices from the people in his life, including Douglas Fairbanks, who had recently passed away. This play also addresses the possible insanity that Chaplin felt during the process of creating his masterpiece.
The play starts right away with Chaplin waking up at his studio trying to figure out his script. If a viewer had no idea of the significance of The Great Dictator, it is at this point that a person could get lost in the story. The story felt rushed, being 90 minutes with no intermission, but Simon gave a great performance just the same. Overall this play was well done; the staging was great–especially the use of a projector screen with footage of Chaplin, played by Simon, interacting with Chaplin on stage. The ending also includes the famous speech from The Great Dictator.
For more information, please visit www.gatewaytheatre.com.