Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Hamlet @ Underbelly

Despite strong displays of classical Shakespearean acting and obvious drunken antics, this Shit-Faced Shakespeare performance lacks a certain energy

Review by Helena Davidson | 31 Aug 2018
  • Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Hamlet 3

Given the reputation of Magnificent Bastard's Shit-Faced Shakespeare, where a different performer turns up drunk to their performance every night, and keeps drinking throughout, expectations for this year’s offering, Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Hamlet, are high. However, despite strong displays of classical Shakespearean acting and obvious drunken antics, the performance lacks a certain energy.

Introducing the show by offering a gong, a bugle and a bucket to the audience, the charismatic compere prances around the stage rallying the audience. Queen Gertrude was the unlucky ‘shit-faced’ character this time, already multiple drinks deep by the time she swaggers on stage to take her position on one of the thrones; her hat hilariously askew. The play continues, with Gertrude ad-libbing continuously, calling her husband Claudio to “kiss me,” and ripping open his clothes, while the rest of the cast carry on effortlessly, fluidly incorporating the drunk remarks into their performance.

The garish coloured costumes provide the perfect contrast to the traditional acting style of these classically trained actors, as the stage is lit up with neon green and yellow, the actors looking like a clown ensemble. Blending the modern with the old-fashioned through costumes and music, there's a tongue in cheek attitude created throughout the whole play, which works immensely well.

Due to the serious nature of the play, the absence of Gertrude in some scenes makes the show less hilarious, and leading the actress to appear unannounced during some scene changes, which is undoubtedly funny, but somewhat forced. There is no doubt that these actors are highly talented, with the actor playing Hamlet carrying the play through its inevitable drunken disorder. However the struggle of performing Hamlet in an hour seems to overwhelm the cast; as they rush through the scenes, undermining some of the show's obvious comedy.

Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Hamlet, Underbelly, Bristo Square, Until 27 Aug, £15-£14

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