Pleasance, Edinburgh
August, 1995

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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