After a deep dive into our own production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet with Snowglobe Theatre in May, I couldn’t wait to head into this “parody-mashup” armed with more knowledge than previously just my high school English class studies. What I got was a beautifully chaotic and rapid-fire collection of simply: Theatre.
Conor Tomalty opens “The Peers” in true Shakespearean fashion, in Iambic Pentameter, introducing the plan to share the space with five shows, in one night, on one stage, in under one hour. The play within a play becomes muddled when the “actors” bring up personal issues, interrupt one another and break from their English literature characters as they attempt to accomplish the feat. What happens next can only be described as a love of the stage.
Adrian MacDonald as Romeo, Conor Tomalty as Antony (“Tony”), and Kate Hammer as Macbeth (yes, Macbeth) made for some of my favourite moments, paying homage to Old Spice, Laval Town Centre and paddle boarding. Lisa Drupsteen’s Lady Macbeth only exemplified the intensity of Hammer’s “Maccy”, creating an extreme couple that only those two women could play.
Rahul Gandhi’s running gags created uproars, considering the audience was full of fellow actors and Fringe members (St-Ambroise lanyard-spotting). Gandhi as moody and irreverent Hamlet was a perfect sum up of the Danish Prince, including a quick (very quick) mention to Laertes, a Polonious with an odd affinity for stabbing, and Hammer’s Scandinavian Ophelia that surprised everyone.
The interactivity was lighthearted, unassuming and very inviting, unlike some other shows I have been to. My roommate, also a Shakespeare nerd, attended with me and was happy to chime in when they needed suggestions. It felt like a big workshop, where the audience was part of the journey to help them succeed.
The sheer speed of the Shakespeare mashup made for near-impossible note-keeping, however it did make for incredible entertainment. With such high energy and intensity, moments could only be enjoyed for a few seconds before another gut-busting one-liner was delivered, or a song was belted, or a costume was altered. As I wrote each play’s name on my notebook, Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet…you get the idea. I was slowly realizing just how many shows Kate Hammer, the playwright, was able to cover, and just how alike Shakespeare’s pieces were.
Hammer wrote the abbreviated and unabashed piece with such hilarity and originality. Poking fun at Shakespeare’s linear connections between his plays, the piece takes little moments you may have missed in the originals and multiplies their meaning, exaggerating and modernizing aspects of the pieces successfully for the Fringe audience. It was difficult to keep up at times, with the timekeeping task left to an audience member creating an awkward lull following the denouement.
As they said, the show must go on, and nevertheless, the troupe was able to keep their energy up, calling for an encore and increasing the speed once again for one last laugh.
“WHO IT’S FOR”
For the Shakespeare lover willing to let their guard down and appreciate Will’s work in a new light.
INFEMOUS presents “The Peers”
at the 29th St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
Performances: June 7 – 16, 2019
Venue: 07 – Théâtre Impro Montréal
3697 Saint-Laurent, Montréal, H2X 2V7
Admission: $10-12 | Ages 16+
Check out all our other 70+ reviews
from this year’s fest on our Fringe page!