Hamlet and Other Theatrical Nightmares

This show is an odd mix, performed by the American High School Theatre Festival. Three short pieces of comic meta-theatre by different playwrights, tied together by the loose and dangerous theme of ‘why acting can be rubbish’. First there is a list of ‘fifteen reasons never to act in a play’, then a nightmare sequence in which an accountant finds himself forced to take the stage, and finally the fifteen minute abbreviated Hamlet from Tom Stoppard’s ‘Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth’. It’s a swift, funny and well choreographed show; all three plays are performed with aplomb and the crowd blocking in ‘Fifteen Reasons’ is particularly neatly done. Of the three, ‘Nightmare’ is by far the most interesting. The ‘Fifteen Reasons’ are fun but a bit shallow and Stoppard’s ‘Hamlet’ is impressive rather than entertaining. In the ‘Nightmare’ section, George, a young introvert who abandoned his plans of monastic life for accountancy finds himself in an incomprehensible theatre world where one play melts disturbingly into another, in which he is forced to play the lead. George is a wonderfully strange and very watchable comic character, his odd speech and mannerisms falling halfway between Mike Myers and Siri. Members of the supporting cast frequently came across as wooden, though this is perhaps understandable given the fact that many of them, according to the programme, are acting for the first time in their lives. Not a groundbreaking show, but a neatly directed and enjoyable one.Also, a word of warning: Church Hill Theatre is a long way away, half an inch below the very bottom of your Fringe map. These bold actors go where cartographers fear to tread and for that I salute them.

Reviews by Tristram Fane Saunders

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The Blurb

Theatre, why do we do it? Fame? Glory? Certainly not for money! Furthermore, why are we fixated on that theatrical nightmare, Hamlet? Hopkins Drama explores this obsession through the comedies of Durang, Stoppard and Haenel.

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