Arthur Smith's shows regularly take the Mickey out of "the spirit of the fringe", but the fringe keeps clasping him to its bosom like a favourite idiot son. His 40-minute Hamlet is a whistle-stop tour of Prozac, "the cigarettes formerly known as Prince", and Kray henchman "Mad" Frankie Fraser ("I told him, 'I'm doing Hamlet' – he said, 'I'll do him for you if you like"'). In the show's most astonishing sequence, Sally Phillips as Ophelia works into her mad scene intimate details of her real-life break-up with "Dick Kipper", a pseudonym for a well-known Fist Of Fun comedian. Add in a closing operatic number with accompaniment from Tom Miles and you have a show that's not just barking but braying.
Written for The Independent.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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