2006 / 2007 London / Brisbane
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In this new and original one-act work take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the boy/man, (having undergone re-ordering and re-writing), turns up in a bizarre dream/nightmare world, disconnected and seriously undecided.
Using Shakespeare’s original text as a springboard into Hamlet’s erudite but confused mind, director Jacqui Carroll has constructed, with writer John Nobbs, a new work based on episodes from Shakespeare’s script which have been extracted and re-arranged to present a newer, fresher, look at this Man of Indecision and Confusion.
"Frank Theatre delivers innovative, visually stunning theatre and manages to do it with minimal cast and minimal props specializing in “Suitcase” theatre, where the whole show can be packed in one or two suitcases and taken around the world. This is the intention with Hamlet Stooged, currently being performed in a sneak preview season at The Brisbane Powerhouse and then off to London, the UK and various International Festivals. Directed by Jacqui Carroll, this production is a modern, urban update on the classic Hamlet, focusing on his madness and inner turmoil through a series of bizarre dreams and nightmares. Somewhat complex at times, it reminds me of the David Lynch film Mulholland Drive, in a disconnected and sensual way.
Writer and performer John Nobbs has paraphrased Shakespeare making him bump into The Simpson’s, glance at Wayne's World and go to bed with Clockwork Orange and several other modern references. Michael Coughlan delivers a tormented performance of Hamlet as he struggles with modern day dilemmas such as Game Boys and the horrors of fast food. Yet despite all this the show is not a comedy, though there are some genuinely funny moments such as John Nobbs in drag as Hamlet’s mother Gertrude. The show is delivered with all the rhythm, rhyme and intensity of a Shakespearean production, only the words have changed to reflect the world in which we live.
Ira Seidenstein draws on his Cirque due Soleil background as the Russian Joker and Leah Shelton is sensational as the Gothic Cabaret style Ophelia. She is sensual, erotic and quite mad, delivering a very burlesque performance of her character including a semi strip tease. It is worth seeing this production for her performance alone. The show includes modern music such as Public Image Limited, Tokyo Shock Boys and the original sixties version of the Locomotion."
Lisa Lamb - Tsunami Magazine, Feb 2006
"Hamlet Stooged is a surreal, hilarious and sometimes disturbing trawl through the underbelly of the Hamlet myth.
This bold new direction for the internationally-acclaimed Brisbane-based company ushers in a modernist world of fractured meanings and disrupted narrative. What Picasso’s cubism did to faces, Hamlet Stooged does to theatre’s greatest procrastinator. Nevertheless, this Oedipal nightmare of a Hamlet is always built on Franks’ typical theatrical rigour and unforgettable stage imagery.
Using aspects of modern clowning techniques, and with John Nobbs’ twisted pop-culture text radically reconstructing Shakespeare’s original, Hamlet Stooged plays like a latter-day absurdist classic.
To understand its tortured psychology, cartoonish horse-play (or rather, dog-play) and intense theatricality, think Arrabal meets Heiner Muller in a production inspired by Tadashi Suzuki. This is a barking-mad Hamlet playing the naughty boy with his ghastly drag-queen mother Gertrude, while Leah Shelton shines as a leggy vixen of an Ophelia. You’ll never look at Hamlet the same way again."
Martin Buzacott - Theatre writer, 2007