Remember back when Hamilton was new, and people didn’t know, for certain, who or what it was about? If not: back before Hamilton was the smash hit we’ve all come to know and tweet about, there lived confusion about who the namesake of the show was – founding father of America, Alexander Hamilton, or F1 world champion, Lewis Hamilton. If like many Twitter users, you’ve ever wondered what the latter might look like, Fiona English has got you covered. Hamilton (Lewis) is exactly what it sounds like: a musical with Hamilton-esque leanings about Lewis Hamilton.
The show is everything one would expect a four-hander musical about F1 racing to be: it’s light and fun. And it stays true to its name: it follows Lewis Hamilton and it has some references to Hamilton. It’s nothing overly polished and manages to retain the feeling of a few friends having fun. It’s charmingly messy, as if the audience are part of an intimate one-of-a-kind experience.
The Hamilton parody elements come thick and fast near the beginning, but as the show goes on, the references thin out both in frequency and in robustness. The more the show progresses, the less it feels like a Hamilton parody, and the more it feels like a comedy play about Lewis Hamilton with the occasional Hamilton reference or name drops.
However, commitment to form aside, the show is still an entertaining journey. English text is well-written; David Eaton’s songs are clever; and the cast feed off each other, fitting together like a perfectly designed puzzle. Letitia Hector gives an inviting performance as Lewis (who the cast and crew assume is gay, judging by the disclaimer at the start of the show; an admittedly confusing take to which the show never really seems to fully commit) with some very brief sneak peeks into the brilliance of her voice. Honestly, the potential of her voice seems tragically wasted for the majority of the show, which is a credit to Hector’s talent. Liberty Buckland is an uncanny Nicole Scherzinger for the majority of the show and undertakes her limited ensemble roles with gusto and vocals to die for.
Louis Mackrodt and Jamie Barwood offer some delightfully hammy caricatures when they are not playing the smooth, competitive Fernando Alonso and Big Ron Dennis, respectively. That being said, both of these roles do have their hammy moments: Big Ron decked out in a crown a la King George is a high moment, and Mackrodt’s dancing prowess combined with Joanne McShane’s choreography, makes for moments of fantastic flamboyance.
Hamilton (Lewis) is more or less what it says on the tin: it’s an enjoyable show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you have no interest in Lewis Hamilton, F1 racing, or Hamilton the musical, this show isn’t for you. While the Hamilton references are seldom meaty enough to satisfy, the show is surprisingly faithful (I assume) to Lewis’ meteoric rise to fame: who would have guessed the two Hamiltons had so much in common?
Hamilton (Lewis) is playing the King’s Head Theatre until 22 September. For further information and tickets, click here.