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Hamlet for Girls
Published on Sunday, 05 September 2010

2 stars

theSpaces on the Mile @ The Radisson (venue website)
6 - 28 Aug (not 15,22), 2.05pm (2.55pm)
Reviewed by Catherine Meek

Hamlet for Girls is a misleading title: it’s not a tragedy, there is neither incest nor murder, no revenge, no grief, no madness...  As far as quotes from Hamlet go, “To be or not to be...”, is used more glibly than imaginatively in relation to the admittedly questionable future of the two couples in the play.

Abi and David impatiently count down to the big reveal of results of a pregnancy test.  It’s not a spoiler to say it’s negative, but Abi covers up her disappointment reassuring herself she has an audition. Notwithstanding her emphasis on her age – 39 – I was not convinced by her expressed desire for a baby, and I didn’t get the feeling David really cared either; the theme is neither explored in intimate conversation between Abi and David, nor really at all.

Maybe it was the point that they didn’t know what they wanted, with the play written to highlight the potential dilemma of many couples who pursue their careers – only to be confronted by the sudden stark awareness as 40 approaches that choosing to have their own baby might be a decision for now or never.  But if so, then the script needs some tweaking to tighten up the intended drama; as it is, it raises various issues, but doesn’t go anywhere near far enough to resolve any of them.

And whilst calling each other “favourite girl” and “favourite boy”, the two didn’t actually appear to be that hung up on each other either, each focussing again on their respective work.  Abi is rather too angry for a woman apparently so desirous of her husband and a baby.  I won’t reveal the outcome of their predicament; suffice to say it just did not ring true to me.

A parallel story of Jean-Paul and Heather seemed no more relevant to the plot than that they happened to be friends with Abi and David, missing the potential for dramatic exploration of the more interesting hints we were given of their characters.  Nothing really happens to Jean-Paul and Heather beyond their getting off together, and Heather’s uberglamour contrasts strikingly with the rather dowdy Abi without any apparent reason for it.

On the production, there was often no neat transition from one story to the other, which was often distracting.  Rather distracting as well was the fact that the various characters exited and entered stage through black curtains, which they had to pull aside each time; the effect was clumsy and untidy.  In summary this was a disappointing play – which failed to explore the potential of any of the themes beyond the superficial, and delivered in my view a lacklustre performance.

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These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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