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Hamlet The Comedy - Belgrade Theatre Review

How do you take Shakespeare's most famous tragedy and make it a comedy? Oddsocks Theatre company gives it a good go as part of their 2022 UK tour.

Oddsocks faithfully don't steer too far away from the original Shakespeare text but sparkles it with chaotic energy, music and comedy with a 5 piece cast playing multiple roles to great effect. 

Hamlet returns home to find his mother has married Uncle Claudius and his father has been killed. Hamlet sets about determined to avenge his father's death. Oddsocks reduce the production, and without dumbing it down they add clarity to the Shakspearean text. If you removed the sillier elements then you have a first-rate Shakespeare performance here.

Those sillier moments are key to Oddsocks style, but for me, sometimes the comedy didn't go far enough. I wanted even more silliness. There are some great visual comedy moments and some quite strange ones, like a random alien wandering across the stage but when the comedy does land it is hilarious. 

The impressive multi-layered set which has various openings is really inventive. The Norse feeling is clever and the use of multiple props enhances the piece. The use of a Viking longboat is delightfully pulled off.  

The cast of 5 are fantastic. As soon as you enter the theatre they are mingling and chatting with the audience before getting into character and ready for the fast-paced production that is ahead. Director Andy Barrow is a bumbling Boris-esque Claudius as well as Gravedigger. Barrow is fantastic in his delivery and his direction is clear and precise. Elli Mackenzie combines Gertrude and Horatio with real skill. Mackenzie is a fantastic actress to watch Theo Toksvig Stewart is full of beans as Hamlet. His youthful energy brings out a likeable Hamlet. 

Arguably the most impressive performances come from Jack Herauville as a multitude of characters including Laertes, Polonius, Rosencrantz and others, and Amber Lickerish as Ophelia, Guildenstern, Osric and others. Both are superb with the quick changes in swapping characters. 

Oddsocks succeed in bringing Shakespeare to the masses and looking at the variety of ages in the B2 space in Coventry they achieve their target. This is Shakespeare for a 2022 audience and it's brilliantly chaotic and chaotically brilliant.

Hamlet The Comedy plays at Belgrade Theatre in Coventry until Thursday 16th June 2022. The production tours with dates through until August. There are some free performances too. Visit for full tour dates and details.

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