Hamlet! The Musical

3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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This spoof musical undoubtedly puts the ‘ham’ into ‘Hamlet’. But, if you’re hungry for good, silly, ‘Spamalot’-style fun, the five-man take on Shakespeare’s Danish tragedy brings home the bacon.

The silly puns are as infectious as the almost-familiar tunes in a show which dances not only on Yorick’s grave, but also on the headstone of one ‘ALW’ (clue: his epitaph is ‘Love Never Dies’).

Actually, the dance-off scene between Jack Shalloo’s ginger-haired, goth rock Hamlet and his dead girlfriend’s brother (Gabriel Vick’s camp, Francophile Laertes) is a high point on the giggleometer.

And you have to salute the decision to play Hamlet’s morally dodgy college chums, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, as midget puppet jocks who wring their little wooden hands and jig in their own little niches in designer Diego Pitarch’s cartoonishly wonky castle towers.

‘Hamlet! – the Musical’ started life ten years ago on the Edinburgh Fringe. It’s a niftily structured full-length show now, but you can still see those hectic origins: in the witty musical pastiches, the ever decreasing, send-up-the-send-up humour and the slightly sketchy look and feel.

Writers Alex Silverman, Timothy Knapman and Edward Jaspers find some nice tangents amid the knockabout comedy: Jess Robinson’s Ophelia, a teddy-hugging, wannabe Disney Princess is excellent – especially when she freaks out, unleashing her inner Courtney Love.

The actors are fresh and funny even if some of the roles they play are as old as canned laughter (Hamlet’s mum and stepdad/uncle are reinvented as an East End psycho and a middle-aged ‘slag… too past it to shag’).

To transfer or not to transfer: that is the question for this Richmond-bound production. It’s irreverent fun – but I’m not sure it’s big, slick or clever enough to conquer the West End.

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