This 50-minute adaptation of Hamlet is one for Shakespeare lovers with short attention spans.
It’s all very gimmicky but is still an impressive feat in under an hour.
From the group that created the successful Shakespeare for Breakfast, now in its 28th year, this version of Hamlet is billed as a naughty late-night adaptation. The raucous cast inject humour and scandal into Hamlet, but it's never quite naughty enough to justify the name and time of the show. They squeeze in a talk show segment, a blow-up sex doll, a sock puppet and interpretative dance, along with a heavy serving of the original text. It’s all very gimmicky but is still an impressive feat in under an hour.
The company have a good understanding of the original material, which allows them to rip it apart. Subtle subtext in Shakespeare’s original play have become glaringly obvious narrative anchors. All of this makes for a Hamlet for the fans. If you have no knowledge of the text, this show would be a struggle and one would risk missing the best bits, like Claudius operating Polonius who is a sock puppet. But for those of us who enjoy nothing more than a debate over Gertrude’s true motives, this tongue in cheek version of the Bard is often a blast.
They have made this Gertrude’s play and she is fantastically sarcastic and outrageously shrill. Paired with a booming Claudius, this production has chosen one interpretation of the paly and run with it; subtle, this is not.
Despite a witty use of a sex doll as Ophelia, one can’t help thinking this production has missed some of the darker aspects of Hamlet that the ‘up late’ name of their show implies they explore. Villainy and revenge are replaced by fruit shoots and a Morphsuit, neither of which result in enough laughs to justify their presence in the show. Sloppy moments of audience interaction fell short of a chuckle and an interpretative dance was awkward for all involved.
Nonetheless, this is a fun interpretation from an energetic cast who’ve done their research. Their love for the original material is infectious. And this is just one of the company’s shows; they have two more Shakespeare interpretations to catch this Fringe.