Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Surrealist adaptation of Hamlet with sock puppets, blow-up dolls and a good dollop of chaos and confusion.
The team behind the enormously successful Shakespeare For Breakfast (now nearing thirty years of Fringe hits) has this year come up with a show at the opposite end of the day aimed, perhaps, at those who prefer something a little stronger than the coffee and croissants lobbed in the direction of their morning audiences.
So, cue the ghost of Hamlet’s Dad, now in a wheelchair, lamenting the rather rapid marriage of his widow to Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle. With Hamlet rushing back to Denmark to find out what’s been going on, things are about to get a little messy.
Hamlet offers untold options in terms of adaptations but C Theatre’s late night effort definitely veers towards the surreal, even absurdist, with it’s sock puppets, blow-up dolls and some interesting variants on the original text. And, with just five in the cast, there was a lot of frantic rushing around and multi-tasking which all added to the general air of chaos and confusion.
And how hard the cast all worked in this, their final performance that was competing (at times unsuccessfully) with the background noise of the Festival firework display. Playing Gertrude as a bossy battle-axe created opportunities for a bit of double entendre and innuendo and Margot Navellou milked every ounce of humour from the role. Caitlin O’Donnell was suitably miffed (and rather Machiavellian) as Hamlet and the ever-charismatic Tom Huxley Golden juggled parts and puppetry throughout the show to great effect.
There was, however, a little bit of an “end of run” feel to the show, probably due to a combination of cast exhaustion (this lot had been performing three shows a day for a month), a rather small audience (giving the poor cast little to work off in terms of improvisation around the script itself) and the fireworks banging away outside. But if there was a Fringe award for “Carry On Acting Regardless” then this lot would be right up there on the honours board as they were determined to provide the few souls present with a bit of entertainment which, by and large, they did.