As always in these reviews a spoiler may crop up, but it’s Hamlet, so…
One of the things that makes navigating the Fringe Festival tricky is that the length of the plays can vary quite significantly and the you find yourself asking the question am I really getting my money’s worth going to one of these shorter plays? Hamlet as Told on the Street is one such play that falls into that category. Fortunately, the answer, on the whole is yes, it is worth the ticket price.
Hamlet as Told on the Street, is Shakespeare delivered in hip hop form out an adaptation done by Shel Silverstein, and staged by One Trunk Theatre. To take a play such as Hamlet and condense it down to 30 minutes (closer to 35 actual running time) the author and editor has to take a certain tack and stick with it. In this case Hamlet is told from a strictly Freudian perspective where the sexual interests of the characters, couched as they are in the sexual mores of the Shakespearean era are dealt with in a straightforward and at times relatively explicit way. However, in making that the choice the adaptation is one where that manages to leave the core of the story intact while trimming it down to a much smaller size.
The show comes with a content and language warning which should definitely be heeded if you are bringing guests, whose comforts levels with such material you are unsure of.
One of the main strengths for such a show in a Fringe setting is that the dialogue is primarily acted and danced out, rather than spoken by the characters on stage. This means that you don’t have to worry about finding five players who are all confident and skilled rappers. Although most of the show is mimed out, on occasion the actors do have a few spoken words of their own.
The cast of five brings a great deal of energy to the show. Due to the nature of the show, there is no one real stand out, but the ensemble works well together.
The production is a multimedia one. As we entered and waited for the show to begin the actors wandered about engaging in free form dance, while Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Hamlet played on a screen in the background. From the start of the show, the dialogue being acted out was broadcast on the wall behind the actors, unfortunately, as is often the case with opening night shows it conked out part way through. However, it was still relatively easy to follow along with what was being said and done.
On the whole, I wouldn’t characterize this show as a must see. If though, you have a Fringe Pass that you are using it’s still worthwhile getting it punched and seeing this show. Hamlet as Told on The Street, is the kind of show that the Fringe festival should be about, and one that will allow you to stretch yourself, especially if you are relatively new to the whole theatre going experience.
Hamlet as Told on The Street
Venue 25, 10:00 pm nightly, Matinee, 3:30 pm, Sunday, July 28