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.