Izzard Hamlet 2★

Riverside Studios

Izzard Hamlet at Riverside Studios. Photo: Amanda Searle

Is this the worse show in London? The Izzard Hamlet, in which the stand-up comedian and actor (now using the pronoun ‘she’) plays every role, has been greeted by extraordinarily bad reviews, including two 1 star ratings. The theme seemed to be that she failed to provide any depth to the characters.

[Links to full reviews are included but a number are behind paywalls and therefore may not be accessible]

The Telegraph‘s Dominic Cavendish (3★) was one of the few critics to award more than two stars, and he was far from complimentary- ‘The dividends…in a daunting test of stamina, textual focus and gender-flipping, seem pretty minima,’ he said. He continued that the acting was ‘efficiently and lucidly executed, but lacking much interiority and passion’. Cheryl Markosky at Broadway World (3★) enjoyed her evening, ‘You’re right there with Izzard, a lone figure on stage who makes Hamlet real and vital.’

Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times (2★) commented, ‘any reading of Hamlet is hard to fathom. There is little interiority, little sense of the agony or gravity of his predicament nor the huge issues at stake.’ Dominic Maxwell at The Times (2★) had the same thought: ‘what Izzard doesn’t do is bring inner life to these ricocheting ruminations…Without more solidity, the performance is only as good as its last well-spoken line.’ He didn’t hold back: ‘this is indulgent nonsense’.

Fiona Mountford at inews (2★) hitout: ‘Izzard’s take is simply too frenetic, little more than a glossy vanity project, an impressive feat of line-learning.’ ‘What is entirely lacking,’ she said, ‘is any sense of Hamlet’s grief, soul-searching and existential angst.’ Georgia Luckhurst in The Stage (2★) was also unimpressed, ‘after landing heavy hitters like “to be, or not to be”…she adopts a hasty delivery that suggests an insecurity about the play’s supporting characters.’ She concluded, ‘if you like your Hamlet less harried, this may not be for you’

The Guardina’s Arifa Akbar gave what for her is a rare 1★, saying, ‘Izzard diligently channelling words rather than any meaningful interpretation of the role.’ ‘Most frustratingly,’ she vented, “Izzard uses the same tone for every character’. Nick Curtis gave a no-holds-barred critique in The Standard (1★), calling it ‘risible’ and ‘an act of colossal vanity and hubris, hung on the skimpiest artistic justification’. He complained, ‘Izzard musters barely any characterisation, emotion or grandeur’. He ended with a heartfelt: ‘Why? That’s the question you ask yourself throughout.’

Critics’ Average Rating 2★

Izzard Hamlet can be seen at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, London, until 230 June 2024. Buy tickets direct from riversidestudios.co.uk

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