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McEwan Hall, Underbelly, Bristo Square  Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Shit-faced Shakespeare: Hamlet gives the audience what they want – a talented actor, screwy with the after-effects of two bottles of wine.

It’s a different cast member that’s drinking each performance, and this time we’re presented with a distinctly cock-eyed Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, who seems to have had one too many on the night of her wedding to Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, vows revenge when he discovers Claudius poisoned his father to steal the crown. A ghost father walks on and Hamlet debates whether ‘to be’ or not, but most of the plot’s finer details soon give way to a masterclass from the sober members of the cast on how to deal with a drunk on stage (and the occasional heckle from an audience that also seems to be relatively far gone).

The first half is wonderfully chaotic and packed with improvised and hilarious throwaway lines but after a while the performance begins to lose pace as the novelty wears off and the jokes become slightly repetitive.

The ad-libbing thrives on being hit and miss – capturing the somewhat anarchic spirit of The Fringe, but occasionally comes across as slightly over-acted and I’m left with the impression that watching it sober is a misjudged decision.

Shit-faced Shakespeare is an entertaining evening if you don’t mind seeing Hamlet roughed up a bit and who knows – maybe it harks back to the play’s first public performance when most of the punters would have been boozed up anyway and just looking for some raucous fun.

About The Author

Editor & Reviewer (UK)

Originally from Oxford, Agnes currently lives in London studying English at UCL. She performs with the university’s drama society and sketch group and is always scouting for theatre with a good plot, a funny joke or a strong political hook.

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