I really hope there wasn’t an adult in charge of this. If there was, why didn’t you tell them what they were doing? Rarely has the text of Hamlet been altered with such baffling disrespect. In this production FramBag Theatre have rearranged it to fit some deranged teenage political fantasy-land. Beautiful, beautiful passages have been cut. This is not Hamlet. This is some of Hamlet appropriated by misguided adolescents, bereft of the full functioning of their prefrontal cortices.

The changes here render the story incoherent. Why not just write a new piece with your ideas?

No ghost. No skull. No “What a piece of work is a man!” The cheek of depriving an audience expecting Hamlet of these lines renders me mute with rage and confusion. No suicide.Horatio says “to be or not to be”. And he’s a woman. Pretty much everyone who is at least occasionally a good guy is a bad guy who tortures people. These torture scenes are squirmingly awkward. The climax is some kind of extended Nazi orgy in a disco. Someone does a freaking handstand. All to a soundtrack as crassly adolescent as the material it accompanies.

I’m rarely tempted to heckle at a play, but here I could barely contain myself. “I can’t hear you!” “That’s not the line!” “I can see you in the wings!” It really is absolute twaddle. I don’t mind texts being altered, as long as there is value in the action: as long it is really well thought out. The changes here render the story incoherent. Why not just write a new piece with your ideas?

These criticisms must be viewed in context: “I must be cruel, only to be kind”. When I mention the lack of a fully functioning prefrontal cortex, I’m not suggesting collective brain damage. It has been suggested that the prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed until an adult reaches their mid-twenties. These guys are all about eighteen.

Young people make terrible decisions. Some terrible, terrible choices went into the making of this production, but they were made by young brains. Who knows? In a few years’ time maybe they will look back and think: “how did we think those were good ideas?” and go on to make something better. For anyone interested in Hamlet, avoid this show. For anyone interested in the developing brain’s capability for baffling incompetence - this one’s for you.

Reviews by James Macnamara


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The Edinburgh Academy

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The Blurb

FramBag Theatre present a sharp and pacy version of Shakespeare's classic tale, full of theatrical fun and visual thrills, with a dash of black comedy and a spattering of bloody horror. In a remote, decaying asylum, where England has become a dark and gloomy basement for carrying out torturous treatments, incompetent and often cruel doctors and nurses treat their patient...