The King Of Rags and Stitches (3 stars)

The King Of Rags and Stitches

Hamlet's toxic masculinity pulled apart at the seams

Peter McMaster's slow-burning interrogation into theatre and male behaviour puts Hamlet in the firing range: specifically, the theatrical clichés and limitations associated with the Bard's most performed play. Featuring a choreographic collaboration with Louise Ahl and dramaturgy from Nic Green , three spectral princes, heaped in a pile like landfill, slowly emerge.

With Butoh-like movements, Murray Wason, Dan Cox and Craig Manson become a single swarming entity. Tentatively, they creep, blinking like newborns. As they break apart, their wordless responses to a BSL interpreter and sounds from speakers (McMaster asking passers-by about Hamlet's most famous lines mixed with city noises) become more recognisably Shakespearean.

The trio fight for their crowns, but they're made of paper. They pose with heads and arms raised aloft, but it seems like a pompous, hollow rendering of a once great role. Grappling for superiority, they instead are reduced to gestural motions , rather than fully fleshed-out characters. Now a power-crazed morass, they sink to the floor and fight: a three headed beast of tangled, sweaty limbs.

The focus on performed masculinity is witty and inventive, but it takes a while to settle into a cohesive narrative. However, once the rhythm and skewed logic of these not-quite kings settles, the prevailing idea of male dominance, with particular emphasis on violence and one-upmanship- either on or offstage- becomes as unappealing as witnessing a late night drunken brawl on Glasgow's streets. A warning from the past to our present, and future.

Britannia Panopticon, Glasgow, run ended. Part of Take Me Somewhere

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