Press Quotes 2011 and Earlier. Going back to 1994
Wow! This is one impressive one-man show. Never before have I
seen an actor sustain so many different characters in intensely
detailed conversation with one another as well as with the audience.
Klaff plays an exhaustive list of well-known (as well as less
well-known) personalities – including Jung, Freud, Gandhi, Jackie
Kennedy and Churchill, to name but a few – in this intricate
performance boasting some very witty moments. This is not
the kind of show to go and see after a heavy night; you will
certainly need your wits about you in order to keep up with
it all. However, if you are looking for some intellectual
stimulation and an amazing one-man performance, this
is the show for you.
THE LIST Howard Bradshaw, Edinburgh – 15 August 2011 Five Stars
I first saw Jack Klaff in Edinburgh on his first visit, in 1981, giving a solo show
about Apartheid (he is South African in origin). I was mesmerised by his
story-telling skills, his ability to create character by a slight vocal change
and a brush of the hair. He peopled the stage with scores of characters,
telling stories of heroism and sacrifice which have remained with me to this day.
I am delighted to report that thirty years on, his skill is undiminished. The
programme lists 25 characters in order of appearance, from Winston Churchill
to Jackie Kennedy-Onassis, all played by Klaff.
Never for a moment do we lose track of who’s who, though the stories
twist and turn and dovetail into each other, making all sorts of unlikely
connections.The theme is friendship, or at least alliances, often between
those in profound opposition to each other: Freud and Jung, Jan Smuts
and Churchill, Kennedy and Gromyko, Hitler and Stalin. The list goes on.
Moreover, it is about friendship expressed and often distorted by language
and language barriers; bad translations cause ruptures, some things
cannot be expressed in words. To paraphrase Wittgenstein, “If you can’t
speak about it, then shut up.”
Klaff himself has a rich gift of language and a sharp eye for cant:
“Sometimes we call people disturbed when what we mean is that they
He also tells a good joke. Quoting Aristotle Onassis: “If I want sympathy,
I’ll find it in the dictionary between ‘shit’ and ‘syphlis’.”
If this sounds very intellectual and academic, then I’m giving the wrong
impression. It is intellectual, in the sense that it is enormously erudite and
well-researched, but it is also incredibly vivid, funny and moving.
Klaff is hypnotic to watch. At one point I was aware of a quality of absolute
silence in the audience, which I have only heard three times in my life, the
last when Natalie Desay was singing Ophelia at Covent Garden five years
ago. It was as if we were all aware of watching a once-in-a -lifetime experience.
Using only a rocking chair for a set, Klaff travels across four continents and
eighty years, setting the stage alight with his energy and his passionate
attention to detail.
“Bosom Buddies” is an object lesson in how to do a one-man show, and
I’d advise every solo performer in Edinburgh to see it and learn about how
to involve audiences, about timing and pacing, and how to make a script
as natural as breathing.
The rest of us will just have to marvel. Five stars aren’t enough.
ThreeWeeks Co-Editor Caro Moses recommends shows from Fringe award winners.
Jack Klaff won a Herald Archangel Award at last year’s festival, and is
generally well known in these parts for putting on quality performances.
@LauraCSounds Laura Coates
Bosom Buddies was a fantastically cerebral historical romp! Well done to
Jack Klaff & his endless energy!!
Thanks to Offers I saw Jack Klaff in his marvelous Bosom Buddies at Hill St Theatre.
STOP PRESS FOUR STAR REVIEW IN THREE WEEKS
twittique ThreeWeeks Reviews
#edfringe review Bosom Buddies at Hill Street Theatre/St George's West:
Jack Klaff is impressive, witty moments, amazing one-man performance.
St George’s West
Jack Klaff is a phenomenally talented performer, with a vast range of experience.
Here he challenges himself more than usual, by taking on more than a score of
voices in one show.
His big point is one of unity – the unity of humanity, and the threats to humanity’s
existence caused by division.
Early on we meet Einstein’s daughter, who cannot believe she could have been
given away – Einstein is seen as an outsider, even at his death, and we see
a competition of ideas between him and his friend, Niels Bohr, who was much
more into unity – perhaps with a capital U. Many other 20th century figures
appear, especially revolving around the 1962 nuclear stand-off – the Cuban Missile
Crisis.Jack Klaff involves you in these debates and issues, leading the viewer
along a fascinating path, and drawing the whole into a satisfactory unity
eventually. It is a true feat to convey all of this in one show – and we are left
wondering how we survived this tempestuous 20th century – and hoping we
may survive (as a species) this current one.
If you want your grey matter stimulated to a degree rare on the Fring, and
to be left with much to contemplate, as well as seeing a master craftsman
of the stage at work, get along to this show.
Some Press Quotes. (Reviews of solo work) ‘Best thing I have seen in years. Indeed it is enough to make any Festival worthwhile’ James Fenton, Sunday Times. ‘Jack Klaff seems to possess a unique insight into the crucial issues of the 20th and 21st centuries. He also has the talent to create real, heart-tugging emotions along the way.’ Joyce Macmillan, The Guardian ‘He has an enormous reputation among audiences for making even the most baffling subjects comprehensible and entertaining’ Malcolm Hay, Time Out ‘A gift for clarifying even the most complex and confusing subjects with joy, wonder and hilarity’. Jack Tinker, Daily Mail. ‘Here is an acclaimed artist giving us exceptional, poetic and funny drama which deals with scientific subjects. We had no right to expect explanations of this supreme quality; he should be invited to places around the world where scientists gather. I was gratified to see that he and I both steal from the same people. I found this work brilliant and unexpectedly moving ’ John Gribbin. New Scientist and LBC Radio ‘An astonishing, major talent’. JoanBakewell, BBC TV