Saturday, July 30, 2011

KC Fringe "Hamlet vs. Zombies" review by Rabid_Reviewer

 The zombification of Denmark (and England)
Rating: 5

Hamlet vs. Zombies
KC Fringe Festival

You know the trend most companies take with Shakespeare, the one where they update the plays to try and make it more relevant to modern society?  This company does the most successful "update" of Hamlet I have seen to date.

The play starts as usual, with two guards on the parapet talking about the ghost of the old king Hamlet they've been seeing.  Horatio shows up to see what the fuss is all about, and sure enough, old king Hamlet makes his appearance.  Except Horatio realizes that it isn't the ghost of the king, but a zombie!

>From there the show takes a severe left turn.  Some of the characters try to stick to Shakespeare's script, while the rest of the cast attempts to survive the zombie onslaught.  The show is fresh, clever, and lots of fun.  If you are a zombie afficionado, are up to date with your zombie films and lore, this is definitely the show for you.  If you are a fan of Shakespeare, you can try to spot which lines come from which plays and which characters.

This is the story of Hamlet, reimagined, retold, and frankly, more fun than the original.

The performances are at all levels.  Claudius was by far my favorite character portrayal, followed closely by Horatio.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern made their cameo with a nod to Tom Stoppard. Ophelia turned out to be a much tougher character than her traditional counterpart.  Hamlet and Gertrude were caught up in their own version of Oedipus Rex.  The character of Polonius was my least favorite, mainly because the actor playing him seemed to actually BE a zombie.  Laertes was over the top trying to be the comic caricature of the original character, which made his ultimate fate a moment of rejoicing.

The special effects were amazingly funny and worked well in the overall concept of the show.

Everyone in the cast is having fun, and the audience is having fun right along with them.  I personally think that the whole zombie trend has been done to un-death, but before you give up the ghost, give this show a try.

The show does tend to drag a bit, but then, so does the original Hamlet in my opinion.  It is difficult to say what I would cut from the show to make it pace better.  I entered with reluctance. I left feeling satisfied.

What can I say?  This show deserves an audience.

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