Edinburgh Fringe Review: Hamlet! The Musical

Posted on 11 August 2012 Written by

There are a number of Bard reinterpretations at the Edinburgh Fringe – from Sh*t-faced Shakespeare to Shakespeare for Breakfast and Hamlet! the Musical – it seems that everyone is trying to make this late 16th and early 17th century literary genius of more contemporary relevance.

Transforming Shakespeare’s brilliant plays into alternative forms involves a great deal of experimentation and of course, not all of it can be successful. Hamlet! the Musical is one such example of an interesting idea poorly-executed. The script itself seems witty; jokes about religion, national stereotypes and STDs are well-written and raise a laugh, and the Queen reading Fifty Shades of Grey before retiring to bed with her husband is a stroke of genius.

But less than half of the show’s lyrics are audible, and along with excessive background music and microphone problems, performers simple don’t articulate their speeches. Other elements also let down the writing: slapstick comedy, an awful tap-routine and a bizarre array of costumes – from flip flops to football shirts, evening gowns and feathered period hats – make the whole production feel flippant.

With some fine-tuning to the staging and major improvement in sound quality, this could be an excellent modern Hamlet. Perhaps our protagonist was referring to the production when he stated “you can’t make a Hamelette unless you break some eggs”. There are plenty of broken eggs here, but as yet no ‘Hamelette’ worth consuming.

** – 2/5 stars

Hamlet! The Musical is playing at C venues as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

11 Comments For This Post

  1. Charlie Says:

    Is Laura Dodge a comedy troll or is she really this dim? Firstly she reviews showstoppers, brilliantly asserting that it isn’t improvised (which it clearly is) and asking the rhetorical question “is it me or is this not funny?” (Laura, it’s definitely you), and now she hilariously reviews Hamlet! As if it is a serious attempt to reinterpret Shakespeare. Um…did you see the poster? Did you, in fact, see the show? If a small site like this wishes to be taken seriously it simply has to find better talent than this.what a joke.

  2. Marcus Wayne Says:

    I think you have completely missed the point of the production. Yes, the musicians at some stages were too loud but an ‘awful tap routine’ and ‘bizarre costumes’? This is a parody of Hamlet not a serious take on the famous play. These so called ‘mistakes’ were obviously intentional in creating a hilarious modern day Hamlet. You have clearly given a serious criticism to fun comedy which is the wrong way to look at it. I thought it was brilliant and the writing was a stroke of a genius. For anyone who knows the story of Hamlet this will definitely have you in stitches.

  3. Oscar Says:

    Totally agree with Marcus. This was the best show we saw at this year’s fringe; waaaaay better than many 4 and 5 star shows we unfortunately were subjected to. It’s a great, fun show if you don’t know Hamlet, and even better if you do. As soon as we came out of the show we booked to see it again the next day. Unfortunately its run is now over, and the super-tallented cast gone back to their summer holidays before returning to their school in September. I for one hope they come back next year.

  4. Laura Dodge Says:

    As I stated in the review, I think the show’s writing is very good. The main problem was the difficulty in hearing the words that were being said. Regarding the costumes, I think perhaps frivolous is the wrong word as I did understand the nature of the production. I felt that the costumes lacked consistency of theme. Had the whole cast worn the same style of costume (eg football shirts), I believe that would have made a clearer statement.

  5. Beverley Says:

    A clearer statement about what? The show was a modern parody of Shakespeare’s rich tragedy and the mismatch of costumes seemed to enhance the comic variety of characters and actors on show. To be honest, the point of the production seemed to be taking Shakespeare and playing around with this tragic play, with its dramatic characters and layered storytelling, and turning it into a truly witty play for those who know Hamlet well. Whilst those who didn’t would’ve been entertained by a catchy musical with genuinely funny characters. I think the above review pays no attention to the fact that, despite the audio problems, the actors gave a performance that really brought something young and fresh to the stage; thus, suiting the style of the the play perfectly and serving the writing admirably. At times the actors even added to the script with their excellent comic timing and energetic performances. There seemed to be nothing wrong with the music on the Saturday performance (which I believe was their last one?) and the cast as well as the writers deserve plaudits for creating one of the most delightfully light and funny Shakespearian adaptations that the fringe is likely to see this year.

  6. Geoffrey Evans Says:

    The cast and the musicians were absolutely first rate! Admittedly, technical issues are an annoyance, however there is little need to make such a song and dance of it, pardon the pun, when the writer of this review “should” have more than enough knowledge of the trials and tribulations of the notorious difficulties in running a musical show in a small space, with a live band & large cast – combined with the array of venue technical rules.

    The ‘Bizarre array of costumes’, ‘slapstick comedy’ & ‘awful tap routine’ are obviously a major part of the irony and humour that this talented young cast managed to bring to this show. [I'm sorry, but if you wanted to see a 'cast wearing the same style of costume, eg football shirts' then perhaps you should have literally gone to watch the Football instead?]

    I 100% agree with Oscar and Marcus on their comments, and this show was indeed something well worth seeing! The originality and talent of the cast, combined with the superb live band – I really hope they return for the Fringe 2013!

  7. Gustaph Says:

    In reply to Charlie’s comment, i can say with confidence that “YES Laura Dodge really is this dim” after reading this review. She has quite clearly missed the point of the production and i can only pity her as she is missing out on a great play performed by a group of young talented actors. The play was witty and funny and the actors did the writing justice. I am not saying that it was faultless as there were some technical issues with microphones as there always are in theatre, however i could make out the lyrics clearly despite the technical issues due the annunciation of the actors, and i have come to the conclusion that Laura Dodge needs to get a hearing aid as soon as possible. Similarly i don’t think that she knows what the word flippant means or she has just seriously misunderstood the whole point of this play and therefore is quite clearly incapable of reviewing plays. The play was well staged and performed and all who worked on it deserve praise not a ridiculous review like this. 2 out of 5 stars is that a joke! Laura Dodge must have no knowledge or understanding of theatre. i give this rating 2/5 stars and the show 5/5.

  8. Deb Says:

    Sounds like the cast isn’t content with a negative review. All plays everywhere require hard work from its cast and crew, but not all plays deserve high ratings. Sound is key to the delivery of any production and impacts the audience’s impression of the overall piece. Perhaps the ire should be turned to the technical issues which clearly everyone agrees on?

  9. William Jones Says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with Laura’s comments. Presumably (hopefully) the other comments left here have been written by people affiliated with the show.

    The cast and musicians are certainly by no stretch of the imagination ‘First Rate’. I saw nothing in this show to convince me that anybody involved was ‘Super-talented’

    As mentioned, there were encouraging elements, such as the writing itself (what little came across), but, sadly, on the whole this was a shaky, stumbling school play of a production.

    As an aside, suggesting that a reviewer is dim because you disagree with their opinion is childish in the extreme. The comments, much like the show itself are embarrassing. Get a grip and stop reviewing your own show, or that of your ‘super-talented, first rate’ darling sons and daughters.

    The lauding of mediocrity with which the English speaking world is currently obsessed is the cancer of art. 5/5? Seriously? You’ve had your brain addled by Simon Cowell & Co.

  10. Simon Says:

    William Jones, there is no need to attack the show, and don’t accuse these comments of being people ‘affiliated with the show’. I can tell you now that I went to see it with my wife and kids and thought that it was absolutely brilliant. I can see an obvious misconception on the reviewers part because the show really did not deserve a poor review. Unfortunately Miss Dodge and yourself both have different opinions to everyone else, but don’t unnecessarily attack the production and a cast of talented actors and actresses, if I do say so myself. One of the funniest productions at the fringe 4/5 stars.

  11. William Jones Says:

    Simon, there IS need to provide opinion. I’m not ‘attacking’ the show, I’m giving my opinion, which I am perfectly entitled to do. The fact that I agree with the reviewer is neither here nor there, the fact that you seem to think that ‘everyone’ else is of a different opinion is incorrect. Admittedly, people who have commented here share your view, but everybody I went with share mine! Your desire to offer protection to those involved is sweet, but I’m afraid that getting negative comments occasionally is part and parcel of working in the arts and sadly, a negative response was fully deserved in this instance.

    Glad you and your family enjoyed it though.

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