William Shakespeare has been reincarnated as a woman and is the cause of confusion and frustration for her therapist, Henry. During her sessions with him she decides that the Hamlet she wrote 400 years ago, the Hamlet we all know today, was well below standard. An entire rework of the play is needed. Ophelia is to take centre stage, and all her male counterparts are to be shoved into menial roles, and they are not going down without a fight.
A Shakespearian play couldn’t have been given a more ludicrous premise, but it was carried off brilliantly by Irene Kelleher with humour, passion and endless amounts of energy.
A Shakespearian play couldn’t have been given a more ludicrous premise, but it was carried off brilliantly by Irene Kelleher with humour, passion and endless amounts of energy. As the one and only performer on stage throughout the entire performance, backed up only by a few pieces of incidental music and amusing props, Kelleher was outstanding. Her energy never waned and every line was bursting with character. Each of the main characters were distinguishable and well defined by the comic mannerisms offered to them: Henry’s heavy German accent, Hamlet’s sassy strutting, Claudius’ angry mopping. The script is packed with witty takes on Shakespearean prose, creating a unique cast of characters in a very unique situation.
However, behind all the silliness a sobering reality lies, and it is only towards the end of the play that the Shakespearian charade begins to fall away and the delusions of the loveably mad William come to the fore. The therapy sessions with Henry and William’s journal entries cleverly serve to etch away at William’s world until reality and fiction merge together and unravel at once, culminating in a delicate and touching finale in which William asks the question that all writers make their characters ask themselves: who am I? It is easy to say that Ian Wild’s script is all at once funny, clever, and inspiring and offers the Fringe one of the most interesting plays to see this year.
It was truly a wonderfully written comedy that filled the hour with laughter; a definite must-see.