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HAMLET HOUSE OF HORROR

PUBLISHED: 16:04 25 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:09 14 October 2010

IF you are looking for a good night out, you cannot do better than the vaudeville Hamlet currently packing the audiences into this small pub theatre.

HAMLET HOUSE OF HORROR

Old Red Lion Theatre, St John Street, EC1

IF you are looking for a good night out, you cannot do better than the vaudeville Hamlet currently packing the audiences into this small pub theatre.

A talented and energetic ensemble of young actors, directed by Chris Barton (who also adapted the piece), are as skilled in their delivery of Shakespeare's blank verse, as they are in all branches of popular theatre, from red-nosed clowning to rocky horror.

Working with Peter Chequer (choreography and movement), they have developed unique individual performances as well as perfect group control.

The ghost scene, often an embarrassing failure in more straightforward productions, is successfully presented as a terrifying column of writhing bodies, topped by the old king and simply but gruesomely lit by Alex Sutton.

The piece is hilariously funny throughout but, strangely, the humour enhances the tragedy. Not only is Hamlet (a scary Louis Lunts) mad, but so are the rest of the characters. In fact, we are all mad, driven crazy by the grotesque sufferings of the human condition.

Among Dee Shulmans's extraordinary make-up and costume designs, there has to be a special mention of the pillar of orange hair sported by Queen Gertrude, played by a seductive Addison Axe. The music (Addison Axe, Max Barton, Chris Barton) is energetic, funny and menacing and performed with mind-blowing skill by only two musicians.

There are two "Hamlets" coming up at a much grander theatre next month, but I will be surprised if they are as good as this one! - JILL TRUMAN


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