Hamilton @ Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Hamilton stands as a timeless, ever-relevant masterpiece, showcasing the enduring power of this theatrical phenomenon

Review by Stephanie Stevenson | 14 Mar 2024
  • Hamilton

The musical Hamilton was first staged in January 2015. It's only nine years ago, and yet the world feels so radically different; from Obama to Trump, from Scottish Independence to Brexit. Pre-Covid to now. David Cameron to… you get the idea. So many decisions made in this short space of time, bestowing life-long repercussions we will continue to face for generations to come.

Yet as the debut UK tour of Hamilton unfolds in Edinburgh, it becomes evident that the essence and brilliance of Lin-Manuel Miranda's creation has not only endured but evolved, thanks to that same everchanging lens on the current political landscape. Hamilton references Newton’s third law often – every action has an equal, opposite reaction – reminding us that politics, like nature, moves like a pendulum. It highlights the consequences our choices as individuals have on future generations, our legacies, both good and bad.

The cast of Hamilton on stage.
Shaq Taylor (spotlit, second from left) and the cast of Hamilton. Photo: Danny Kaan

Described as "America then, told by America now" and told through catchy hip-hop and R'n'B, the musical works as a mirror, reflecting the progress and stagnation of timeless concerns that plague us: war, marginalised rights, gender roles – the list goes on. The intentionally diverse cast invites us to connect with the emotions intertwined throughout the story and with the universal desire for freedom that sustains Hamilton as a living, breathing piece of art that resonates with audiences worldwide.

Although liberties have been taken with the facts, at the show's core is an underdog story (how ironic that a show that celebrates and mocks the defeat of the UK is so popular in that very place). The cast of this touring production seamlessly step into the show's iconic roles, infusing the characters with a fresh energy and authenticity. Sam Oladeinde gives a more conservative yet impactful Aaron Burr, contrasting against Shaq Taylor’s more excitable take on Hamilton. Tonight's audience particularly responded to the goofier moments added by Deangelo Jones as John Laurens and Billy Nevers as Thomas Jefferson.

While the original Broadway cast set an exceptionally high bar, the touring ensemble's performances are a testament to the show's enduring appeal, proving that Hamilton transcends individual actors and remains a powerful narrative driven by a collective artistic force. Utilizing the full original set, including the rotating stage, this tour reaffirms Hamilton as an undeniable force of nature, receiving standing ovations. While the heart and soul of the show remain intact, it's clear that the production has not rested on its laurels. Instead, Hamilton continues to evolve, embracing new interpretations while staying true to its revolutionary spirit.

Hamilton, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, until 27 Apr, 7.30pm (additional matinees on Tuesdays and Saturdays, 2.30pm)