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Comedy Fringe Theatre

Fringe 2022: Hamlet: The Play The Panto The Musical

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A rip-roaring reinterpretation of one of Shakespeare’s best-known plays, Hamlet: The Play The Panto The Musical, is a riotous romp through an age-old story. Wonderfully wacky, and full of charm, this genre-bending musical-mashup is Shakespeare how it should be – dark, witty, and very, very, camp. Written and directed by Hannah McGregor, and with a host of musical numbers created by herself, Sofia Pricolo, Giulia Lovrecich and Falk Meier, Hamlet is an exceptionally well-crafted play, which is performed by a very talented cast.

Opening with a spirited, and highly satirised, musical number entitled, “Everything is absolutely fine in Denmark”, the Theatre Paradok collective quickly establishes a humorous twist on the original play. Following the traditional plot loosely, but with inventive silliness muddled in, the play follows Hamlet (Lizzie Baldwin) discovering the ghost of his dead father and then setting out to avenge his murder. Narrated at points, by a delightfully sequin-clad Horatio (Jay Brown), the play cheerfully breaks the fourth wall, entertainingly reminding us of the hour time limit as they hop past a series of less-significant plot points.

Any major omissions are well worth the songs they squeeze in their place though, as this retelling is brought to life by its ridiculous musical numbers. From the sombre-sweet reckoning between Ophelia (Edie Gillett) and Hamlet about their respectively upsetting lives to a hilariously well-performed number celebrating Claudius and Gertrude (Rorke Wilson and Jess Ferrier) as inevitable villains, each song incorporates humorously dark twists and hysterically funny one-liners. A stand-out number occurred towards the end of the play, where the ghostly, sheet-clad ensemble circled a stressed-out Hamlet, berating him for being a “dick” for all the blood on his hands. Full of witty intertextual references, from Bambi’s mother to Macbeth, the song was delightfully inventive, and atmospherically accompanied by Meier on keys.

Bringing the music and scripts to life is a brilliant cast, that injects each character with a lively, farcical flair. Baldwin captures the bewildered, but hopeful naivety of Hamlet, whilst performing a delightful, sexually charged, patterned with Brown’s gloriously extravagant Horatio. Likewise, the relationship between Claudius and Gertrude is brought effortlessly to life by Wilson and Ferrier, with an uptight confidence and bemused unaffectedness.  Mia Clayton (Polonius and others) and Marni Robertson (Ghost and others), also deserve mention for their high-energy, multi-character performances. Choreographed by Sofia Pricolo and Izzy Ponsford, a host of dance routines and physical comedy brought life to the simple staging, making this a very fluid performance. 

Produced by Lew Forman, and brought to Fringe as part of the Paradok Platform – aiming to create accessible platforms for experimental new theatre – Hamlet: The Play The Panto The Musical is a strong, and unique production, which you could easily see being enlarged. Highly original, and performed with unrelenting enthusiasm, it’s everything a Fringe show should be and more.

Hamlet: The Play The Panto The Musical is showing at Just the Tonic at La Belle Angele, August 26-28 at 17:00.

Image credit: courtesy of Andrew Morris, provided to The Student as press material.