Theatre review: All Roads Lead to Rome
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review: All Roads Lead to Rome at Pleasance Hunt & Darton Cafe (Venue 172), reviewed by Susan Mansfield
How do you get from the birth of Mussolini to the fall of Communism in a 1967 Triumph Herald? In Chris Dobrowolski’s Fringe show. The artist, who is more usually a maker of mechanical sculpture, has created an idiosyncratic but compelling piece of road-trip storytelling in the format of a lecture and slide-show.
The real star of the show is the car (it is here in Edinburgh, parked outside the venue). It was his father’s, bought new in anticipation of Chris’s birth, and has been in the family for 45 years. He admits that when he first had the idea to drive it to Italy, where it was designed, he felt just a little like Dave Gorman. In fact, his journey has a rawness and vitality that Gorman’s more polished adventures sometimes lack.
It took Dobrowolski three days to reach Turin, where the family firm of car designers is still in operation. He then went on to trace the wartime journeys of his Polish father, who fought as part of the International Force which invaded from the South in a bid to crush the Nazis.
He follows in his father’s steps, from Monte Cassino (razed to the ground by the Allies) and Rome (scene of a somewhat premature victory procession) to Milan, where Mussolini’s dead body was hung upside-down outside a petrol station. He also throws in a visit to Predappio, where the leader was born and is buried, and where the chief export seems to be neo-fascist souvenirs.
At times, it feels as though the material would benefit from being more clearly organised, particularly towards the end – the discussion of consumerism is pertinent but needs to be more firmly fleshed out. But, even if it is occasionally homespun and haphazard, Dobrowolski’s show covers a lot of ground. He takes us from the personal to the political, across a great swathe of 20th century history, all without leaving the driving seat of Triumph Herald.
MORE INFO: All Roads Lead to Rome at Pleasance Hunt & Darton Cafe (Venue 172),, until 25 August
Originally published in The Scotsman