Sh!t-faced Shakespeare: Hamlet at Leicester Square Theatre
Most theatregoers may know him as the senseless maniac who feigns his own madness in order to prove to his entourage that Uncle Claudius (Matthew Seager) is indeed the culprit behind his father’s death, but in this topsy-turvy version of the play, staged by the unbeknownst and daring Magnificent Bastard Productions, Shakespeare’s Hamlet (David Ellis) is about to become totally and completely sh*t-faced.
In this modern-day retelling of the famous classic, Hamlet swaps antic disposition for drunkenness. As the only member of the cast who is truly plastered throughout the entire performance, he forgets his lines, slips up on others and invents the rest, much to the amusement of an engaged audience, who egg him on to keep downing his pints. A hazard both to himself and his onlookers, he must now be chaperoned left, right and centre, to ensure that he does not unintentionally fall off stage or throw light props into the stalls.
The concept is interesting, that of exploring the nature of dramaturgy to its core by having an actor method-interpret his role, but what begins as structured chaos soon turns into a game of silliness, a display that is more slapstick than tragic. The production is no longer a serious interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s most-coveted classics, it becomes an undeniable parody of it instead, with the excessive humour overshadowing all too much the plot. Yes, it is funny, especially when the actor playing Hamlet adds his own spin on the script to match the semantics of our day and age, but it may have been to the detriment of losing some of the essence of the carefully woven, centuries-old narrative. Nevertheless, Sh!t-faced Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a show that is enjoyable in parts, and one that will split audiences in terms of taste.
Photo: Rah Petherbridge
Sh!t-faced Shakespeare: Hamlet is at Leicester Square Theatre from 21st June until 14th September 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.