Review: Factory Hamlet

By paulcox Last edited 125 months ago
Review: Factory Hamlet

You might be planning to avoid Regent Street this afternoon for its "Great British Experience" of a Festival, but we must entreat you to get down to the depths of Oxford Circus with all haste for the soon-to-be-legendary performance of the Factory Hamlet that is to begin there at 3pm, wending its way eventually to Piccadilly.

The Factory Theatre's Hamlet is suddenly such a hot ticket that Londonist is a little abashed not to have hipped to it until now. Taking over a different space every week for the past year, the group have spun Shakespeare out of thin air: assigning parts with a game of rock-paper-scissors, and soliciting props as they go from the audience, who are entreated to bring along something useful, like a mounted deer or a tin of beans. To make things even more interesting, in each act the director hits his cast with a new constraint, such as only allowing one player up on the stage at any one time.

From a first audience of fifteen the show grew to hold its first anniversary performance last night as a full house midnight matinee at Shakespeare's Globe itself. The formula of a classic, dead serious text subjected to so much improv is nothing short of brilliant. It works because the actors really act it, throwing the requisite gravity into their roles regardless of the fact that Hamlet has mistaken an inflatable shark for his father and the fencing duel has become a deadly badminton match with a grapefruit.

Quitting while they're ahead, the Factory are going to end their run with one final week of nightly performances starting now. These include appearances on the set of another play at the Hampstead Theatre and in Hoxton and Bunhill office blocks, but we reckon this afternoon's outdoor attempt to render Denmark out of Regent Street will be the one to go down in history. Run, don't walk, and don't forget your stuffed penguin.

For all upcoming dates, get thee to the Factory Hamlet website or facebook group. Photo courtesy of Tiki Chris via the Londonist Flickrpool.

Last Updated 07 September 2008