Fringe Toronto: Hamlet… A Puppet Epic

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So this morning I took in a Fringe Kids event, I mean it was Hamlet. And puppets. Hamlet WITH puppets. How could I resist? Presented by the puppet company Shakey-Shake and Friends, here in Toronto, this company, both human and puppet, are making their home in the George Ignatieff Theatre for the course of the Festival, and with the modern, collegiate feel of the theatre, there couldn’t be a better place to introduce some younger Festival goers to one of the Bard’s most popular works.

That being said, there were a few youngsters there who were a little too young yet to figure out what is going on. The suggested age range for younger viewers is 6 to 12, but don’t worry there are enough gags and comedic moments to entertain the whole family, especially the grown-ups, while staying faithful to the original, even using passages from the original text.

The eight cast members, Simon Lee, Shira Taylor, Jeff Dingle, Merritt Crews, Erin Eldershaw, Luke Marty, Megan Miles and Tom McGee (who also adapted the piece) bring their respective characters to life, bracing the viewers for the inevitable tragedy that befalls Hamlet and his family, but making it more bearable for the younger viewers with lost of gags, ghost-sheets, and yes, ghost-mermaids. The Bard never saw that one coming.

There are nods to pop culture, ruminations on the plot, and tons of fun moments, like Polonius’ love of hiding behind curtains.

When his father is ‘ear-poisoned’ by his uncle, young Hamlet feigns craziness, drives his girlfriend Ophelia away, and after a visit from his ghost-dad, must come up with a way to prove his uncle killed his father. His mother lives in denial, his friend Horatio is being overlooked constantly, and his uncle, Claudius, is just a bad, bad guy, who when trouble comes for him, turns to Batman for help.

It’s a lot of fun, it’s a vibrant, high-energy show with nods to history, classic literature and characters, and lots of pop culture. This was a great way to start my Sunday, and I’ll look forward to hearing more from this company through the course of the year.

You can check this one out on Tuesday the 7th, Wednesday the 8th, Thursday the 9th, Friday the 10th and Sunday the 12th. You can get your tickets here.

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