I am Gavrilo Princip follows the true story of the infamous, or forgotten, assassin responsible for the death of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the beginning of the First World War. A war where between 15 and 22 million people lost their lives. This play puts Princip in purgatory asking if he was really as bad as history makes him out to be.
The production features two live musicians, a guitarist and a trumpet player, who, at various points, looked as bored as the audience felt. Both musicians underscore the piece, often playing far too loudly meaning writer and actor, Oliver Yellop, cannot be heard. In addition, sometimes the music is used in a very cartoonish style, such as the guitar mimicking gunfire, which detracts from the more serious themes explored in the play.
Yellop’s portrayal of Princip has its faults. For starters, he plays the Bosnian with a strong cockney accent, often sounding and acting like a children’s TV presenter with over-the-top, flamboyant movements and questionable rises and falls in pitch. His performance lacks any real sense of pace. There never seems to be anywhere ‘to go’ with the character and any pace changes are sudden with no real build-up and then end.
There were many points throughout the piece where I found myself disengaged, zoning out and thinking about other things completely unrelated. This is never a good sign for a piece of theatre. There was no hook, nothing to draw me in. Instead, it felt as though I was transported back to a history classroom, learning facts and figures with no real interest.
Tech-wise, the piece is basic, using a white-wash of lighting throughout which subtly changes in intensity – although I’d argue this was unnecessary and the changes lacked any sort of purpose. The set consisted of a singular black block covered in chalk and a number of bloodstained pieces of paper cluttering on the stage. Such staging could easily be compared to the whole show. A mess.
It felt as though when Yellop was writing this piece, he hoped that the audience would question whether Princip was in the right or wrong. Instead, I questioned… why?
I am Gavrilo Princip runs at the Drill Hall from the 23rd to the 28th of August and tickets can be found at https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/i-am-gavrilo-princip
Reviewer: Dylan Mooney
Reviewed: 23rd August 2022
North West End Uk Rating: ★