Backstage one-man Hamlet is a cliché-ridden indulgence
This article is from 2012.
In his dressing room, an ageing, embittered thesp – divorced and teetering off the wagon – prepares to play his one-man uncut Hamlet. In the half hour before the beginners are called, he unravels and implodes.
Why did it have to be Hamlet? Had Richard Dormer plumped for any other canonical role – Willy Loman, Lear’s Fool, Eva sodding Peron – this navel-gazing soliloquy might not have seemed quite such a cliché-ridden indulgence. Instead, he ticks the tropes off one by one. There are gripes about agents, stray whisky bottles and superstition-shattering tourettes. (‘Oh God, I said Macbeth. Oh Christ, I said it again.’ And again. And again. Look where it comes again.)
Basically, Dormer hasn’t written a play so much as a routine, one that Fringe stalwart Guy Masterson clearly relishes. He’s undoubtedly charismatic with a voice that shifts from sandpaper to velvet to Velcro, but Masterson needs reigning in first, and better material second. Ultimately, it’s just too easy to imagine a play about an actor preparing to play an actor preparing to play Hamlet.
Assembly George Square, 623 3030, until 26 Aug (not 13), 2pm, £12–£14 (£10–£12).