Play Reading - Hong Kong Hamlet by Joe Studwell and Tom Hope


HK English Speaking Union
  • Mon 18-11-2013 7:30 PM - 2 h




Fringe Box Office


Hong Kong Hamlet by Joe Studwell and Tom Hope

Monday November 18th

Hong Kong Hamlet was written by freelance journalist and author Joe Studwell, together with Not

So Loud Theatre Company’s Tom Hope, for the group’s Hong Kong Fringe Festival production in

1994. Its witty style is reminiscent of Tom Stoppard’s celebrated comic deconstruction of Hamlet in

Rosencranz and Guildenstern are Dead as well as the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s 1-minute

Hamlet (notorious for also being performed in reverse in their achingly funny Shakespeare send-up),

which proves that even Shakespeare’s most famous tragic play can be the stuff of comedy. By the time

we finish reading the play we realize that the author has done more than just entertain us and satirize

Hong Kong’s well-known obsession with status-symbol possessions such as expensive watches and

snob-appeal brands of brandy. A psychoanalyst character mediates between audience and the actor

playing young Hamlet, making the audience indirect observers of Hamlet Junior’s ‘father’ problem

and not direct listeners and confidants, as in the original tragedy. The dramatic situation in this clever

comedy reflects a Hong Kong family scenario that we all recognize, the poor little rich kid who has it

all and yet is emotionally dislocated, having had the best that money can buy, except the opportunity of

experiencing normal life. Hamlet Junior from Hong Kong is faced with understandable identity issues

as well as uncertainty about the true nature of the family company, Crown Holdings and his Father’s

Mother’s and Uncle’s corporate activities in the mainland. Ophelia here is an environmental activist

concerned about Hamlet Senior’s and now Claudius’ and Gertrude’s involvement in the Three Gorges

Dam project, all of which gave the play a contemporary relevance and a critical edge. Tom Hope will

be present since an anthology of Not So Loud plays, including this one, is being launched at the Fringe

Club in December.

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