(Dominic Cavendish’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 7/12.)
You simply can’t take your eyes off him. From the moment Henry Goodman’s Arturo Ui bursts into view through an old film poster of Scarface to make his limelight-stealing entrance, spitting away the ripped paper residue from his face, he is horribly, hypnotically watchable.
Goodman takes his customary finesse to another level in his hyper-detailed account of a Thirties American mobster who is unmistakably Adolf Hitler, as viewed through Bertolt Brecht’s satirical lens circa 1941. His tour de force performance sketches not just step by step but almost line by line the growth of a grasping upstart into a near-unassailable megalomaniac. Director Jonathan Church hasn’t
missed a trick in casting him and Goodman doesn’t miss a tic. He begins on a bravura note of Chaplinesque comedy, looking – despite his toothbrush moustache – like a diminutive schoolboy whose mates might turn against him at any moment. Twitchy, brooding, jerkily gauche of movement, he’s almost afraid of his own shadow, absurdly jumping out of his skin when he drops a chair on his foot.