Hamlet House of Horror
Shakespeare’s procrastinating prince gets an exuberant makeover courtesy of the fresh-faced Westminster Theatre Company whose Vaudevillian approach combines mime, satire, physical theatre, live music and (a lot of) Rocky Horror-esque make-up. It clocks in at a mere 75 minutes, but for every shorn speech and lost soliloquy, there’s a smartly thought-out innovation - from Hamlet and Ophelia’s “get thee to a nunnery” scene enacted via text message, to Hamlet introspectively bawling “to be or not to be” down a camera lens.
What with the chattering classes up in arms about Rupert Goold’s “The Merchant of Vegas” currently ripping through Stratford, Shakespeare’s mercantile tragi-comedy has rarely been so sharply in focus. Shylock, the controversial outsider and notorious money-lending Jew at the heart of the play (played by Patrick Stewart for the RSC) is the sole subject-in-chief here as the vastly experienced Fringe favourite Guy Masterson tackles this most complex of characters.
Another young company—Bristol’s Thrice Three Muses—are the predominantly all-female team behind this bold twist on Shakespeare’s conspiratorial Roman tragedy. On taking the crown in Rome, the equally reviled and revered figure of Caesar is set upon by armies of wild, Amazonian women, emblazoned with tribal face paint intent on war. “Gritty political drama with a fantastical twist,” they promise. And it’s free. [Joe Spurgeon]