Bogan Shakespeare Presents: Hamlet
If your previous experience with Shakespeare involved overly formal British accents, fussy Elizabethan costumes and left you feeling bored or confused by the dry recitation of lines, relax, maaate.
This version of the Bard is much more comfortable-thongs, singlets, flannels and a healthy dose of broad Aussie accents and cases of VB.
This cheap and cheerful production is set in the fictional Crown pub in Denmark, WA’s southern country town. All actors play at least two or three characters except for the actor who plays the title role of Hamlet, or “Hammey”.
Dean Lovatt, who switches effortlessly between the murderous Claudius and the ghost of Hamlet’s father also plays a cheeky narrator, swiftly guiding this 60-minute condensed version. Kate Sophia Willoughby also stands out as a nasal, wine-swilling, Tim Tam-eating Gertrude who enables Hamlet’s neuroses.
As you’d expect, the production takes generous liberties with the text, the biggest of which is Hamlet and Horatio’s relationship.
To everyone at the pub, they’re “just friends” from uni, but by Act 4, they let go of their hypermasculine fronts and lock lips. The ghost of Hamlet’s father visits him at the pub and admits he voted “Yes” and “Love is Love”.
The last line of the play spoken by Horatio, “Goodnight, sweet prince”, takes on a whole new meaning. Bogans performing Shakespeare are progressive Bogans after all!
Another hilarious twist is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s famous play within the play scene.
Here, it’s a rude and crude Bingo night at the Crown, in which Hamlet writes not so subtle accusations against his uncle for murdering his father, in the form bingo call-outs: “37, 37, You’re Not Going to Heaven!!”.
The Bard himself wanted to pander to a mass audience and it’s refreshing to see actors finding the humour in a traditionally serious and dark play.
Despite some amateur overacting, heavy reliance on cultural stereotypes and the waning and slipping of Bogan accents, Shakespeare has never been so fun and foul-mouthed. Get thee to the Flour Palace to see this cracker of a play.