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Eddie Izzard’s solo Hamlet is an endurance test – taking on all the roles with wit and subtlety

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Published Time: 12.02.2024 - 02:40:24 Modified Time: 12.02.2024 - 02:40:24

The premise suggests spoofery, but it’s an intimate production in which the comedian delivers balletic, tender performances (all 23 of them) Carol Rosegg Hamlet is a daunting role for any actor, even if that’s the only part you have

The premise suggests spoofery, but it’s an intimate production in which the comedian delivers balletic, tender performances (all 23 of them)

: Carol Rosegg

Hamlet is a daunting role for any actor, even if that’s the only part you have. Eddie Izzard, in a new solo show, tackles not just Shakespeare’s melancholy Dane but also Ophelia, Claudius, Polonius, Gertrude… right down to the first and second gravedigger.

The premise may suggest a zany night of stand-up spoofery, but it’s actually an absorbing, intimate production in which the trans actor and comedian (who favours female pronouns) plays 23 characters large and small. This Off Broadway production, running at New York’s cozy 199-seat Greenwich House Theater, offers no radical interpretation or modern reimagining, instead focusing on Shakespeare’s words and Izzard’s relationship to them and the audience, not unlike Izzard’s recent solo Great Expectations, which the Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish called “as glorious an evening of singularly rendered Dickens as I’ve encountered.”

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