Winston on the Run

Pleasance Courtyard

Theatre Reviewed by Gerald Berkowitz

Although billed as a comedy, Freddie Machin's solo show about an episode in Winston Churchill's time as a journalist in the Boer War is played and certainly received by the audience as a straight account, the only touches of humour coming in the hero's inclination to overdramatise both himself and his experience.

And even those, like the jingoistic purple prose of his news reports and his over-eagerness to indulge in some derring-do, play like accurate depictions of the Boys' Own Adventure spirit that characterised the era.

With a shock of ginger hair that makes him look like a cross between Prince Harry and Napoleon Dynamite, Machin finds Churchill hiding out after escaping from a Boer prison and recalling what got him there – having failed in his first attempt at election and somewhat at loose ends, he wangled a newspaper assignment to cover the war and then, stuck in a backwater and eager for adventure, he urged the troops he was accompanying to push forward and got them all captured.

Rescue comes, and soon he is parleying his fame toward a successful election to parliament.

As directed by John Walton, Machin captures young Winston's slightly foolish boyish enthusiasm, but if he was reaching for broader comedy than that, the audience's serious and respectful response should tell him that's not the play they're seeing.

Published online
Review by
Gerald Berkowitz
Produced by
Fol Espoir
Created by
Freddie Machin and John Walton
Running time
1 hour
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