Review | Laura Money
Ah, Hamlet – that classic tale of intrigue, existential crises, lost love, and of course, ear poisoning. Bogan Shakespeare have been boganising the bard for yonks – this year it’s Hamlet and they got an upgrade straight to business class – The Heath Ledger Theatre! Presented as part of State of Play the bogans are back and this time they’re going for gold.
Parodying perhaps the most well known adaptation of Hamlet – revered 90s animated classic The Lion King – the crew sing to the refrain of ‘get-a-tinnie-and-a-Tim-tam-in-ya’ (don’t pretend you don’t know the tune!) and take the piss out of every single bit of the play – did I mention ear poisoning? Set in Denmark, WA Hamlet returns from studying communications in the big smoke for his father’s funeral only to find his Mum’s gone all hippy and shacked up with his uncle – who is super dodgy and totally killed his Dad. Exposition over, Hamlet introduces his ‘friend’ Horatio and doesn’t seem to be fooling anyone except Ophelia who is gagging for it!
The skill of Bogan Shakespeare is in what is changed. They have nailed the outrageous by totally taking the piss. The Crown becomes the pub, Yorrick Hamlet’s childhood dog, and the play within a play is perhaps Bogan Shakespeare at their finest – a bingo game. Rosie and Gildo read out the numbers with the usual jokes – 22 two fat ducks, legs 11, you definitely killed my Dad, you horrible murdering bastard – that kind of thing.
Choosing Hamlet has its advantages as the plot is so well known so many of the laughs are anticipatory – however I would argue that it’s actually the staple Bogan Shakespeare traditions that people are really going nuts for. The hilarious fourth wall breaking when speaking in asides, literally explaining the whole plot and then just letting it play out, knowing smiles and laughs at the crowd and of course the ghost scene. Yes, they have The Heath Ledger Theatre and still use a sheet and it is glorious.
Bogan Shakespeare Presents: Hamlet is their finest hour. It hilariously and introspectively breaks Shakespeare down and simultaneously ridicules and reveres the script. All the snaps for rewriting Ophelia’s fate 500 years later and sensitively portraying Hamlet’s pain whilst just quietly having a bit of a dig at notions of masculinity. Of course, no Bogan Shakespeare experience would be complete without the blergh every time someone dies, so let’s just say there are a lot of blerghs onstage because you killed it!
You can catch all of the bogan angsty action at the State Theatre WA until 29th January 2023. TICKETS
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The Fourth Wall acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we engage in storytelling on – the Wadjhuk people of the Noongar nation. We pay respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.