Shakespeare in the Garden: Cheer Up, Hamlet

It can be hard for a children’s show to be entertaining for both adults and children simultaneously, but Captivate Theatre’s latest addition to their Shakespeare series is effortlessly entertaining for all. Taking Shakespeare’s well known story of how Hamlet the tortured Dane struggles to avenge his father’s murder, they transform this traditionally tragic play into a musical extravaganza. With witty dialogue, catchy songs, and cleverly interwoven Shakespeare dialogue, they achieve the impossible of making one of the most tragic plays of all time into a farcical comedy, causing you to leave with a big grin on your face.

Captivate Theatre has set the mark for how Shakespeare can be enjoyable and fun for children of all ages

What is great about this show is that they don’t dumb down Shakespeare and patronise their child audience. Instead, they smartly revamp this play using a mixture of Shakespearean language and plain English, meaning that even young children can understand and follow the story. Therefore, through this combination of the original and the new, there is something to be enjoyed for all. For children there is fun, playful humour and modern jokes such as Ophelia reading Harry Potter, and for adults there are plenty of hidden ironies and wit as they play off Shakespeare’s original language and adlib thoughts that we have all had when watching Hamlet.

The original songs are the true delight of this show with Ophelia’s solo being one of the stand out moments. In this solo, Ophelia is finally given the chance to stand centre stage and be her own woman, which she is always denied in the traditional version. Here she stands up strong and belts out her beautiful voice which is both humorous and powerful simultaneously. These songs make the show as they not only help to move the story along but are incredibly comical and catchy causing you to go away singing them for the rest of the day.

They did have a few audience participation moments which didn’t quite work but overall the energy and enthusiasm of the cast spreads out across the audience, with the children laughing and singing along with delight. Captivate Theatre has set the mark for how Shakespeare can be enjoyable and fun for children of all ages, causing you to think when leaving “Why can’t more Shakespeare be done like this?”

Reviews by Emily Blackwell

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The Blurb

Cheer Up, Hamlet is Captivate’s latest addition to the Shakespeare series. A fun and accessible introduction to Shakespeare for all ages, it tells the story of the tortured Dane and his struggle to avenge his father’s murder through witty dialogue, catchy songs, comedy and Shakespeare’s language. ‘Wow! This is a delightful, amusing and somewhat brilliant version made accessible to children without it feeling dumbed down’ (Brave Macbeth, 2014 One4Review.co.uk). ‘An excellent performance. Jake (age eight) thought it was the best show he had seen by far’ (Brave Macbeth, 2014 PrimaryTimes.net).

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