CUPPERS: Hamlet's Audition (Queen's)

Tue 8th November 2011

reviews

Yara Rodrigues Fowler

at 15:26 on 9th Nov 2011

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This very cheerful cupper follows the plight of two theatre directors holding auditions for the perfect Hamlet. Each auditionee treats us to a different interpretation of Hamlet’s ‘to be or not to be’ with varying degrees of comic and dramatic success. To their credit, the half an hour moved quickly and colourfully, although at times the line between cringing with and cringing at the actors was undeniably crossed.

Several of the auditionees and their interpretations stood out as comically excellent, in particular the ‘interpretative dance’. The image created is quite specific: one dressed as a bumble bee (complete with sound effects and antennae), the other as a bee-catcher in a white lab coat sporting a large net. They chase each other, clapping and shouting ‘to be or not to be’ to the sound of dubstep until the bee is eventually caught and the directors beg them to stop. Unlike any audience members, the bee and catcher managed to keep remarkably straight faces.

Another laugh-out-loud audition was of an actor with clockwork-orange eyes who interspersed Hamlet’s speech with murmured sweet nothings to the pineapple he held in the place of the conventional skull. However the other auditionees attempting comedy were disappointingly unoriginal - one simply insisting on speaking in a French accent, for example. Also more could have been made of the caricature of the pretentious and exasperated theatre directors.

Praise should be given to the more technical and design aspects of the piece. The costumes were visually arresting and, given the number and range of characters, must have taken some time and ingenuity to put together. If not always exactly appropriate, they were entertaining without exception. Likewise, the musical talent of the auditionee who sang in the opera-style ‘to be or not to be’ with her ‘orchestra’ of four, although totally superfluous to the piece, was an impressive and pleasant surprise.

The structure of the play was such that the first twenty minutes built up the arrival of a genuinely excellent performance of ‘to be or not to be’. This is a big ask of an eighteen-year-old. It is an especially big ask of an eighteen-year-old dressed as a condom (I don’t think this is ever really explained - a slight over-indulgence in the ridiculous on the part of the director, perhaps). However the performance, described by one judge as ‘lovely’, was unquestionably decent, as Tuesday’s spell-bound audience attested.

All in all, Hamlet’s Audition is amusing and enjoyable - although I still think I would have rather spent the time watching the rest of bumble bee’s interpretive dance.

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