A DivaGal Visits her First Under the Radar Theatre for HAMLET | TOILETBy Caroline Cao | January 17, 2024 | Entertainment
If you reside in New York City, you might have heard of the queer imaginative Fat Ham or the Public’s Georgia-set Hamlet. But have you heard of HAMLET | TOILET?
Er, so what do Hamlet and toilets have in common? Well, writer-director Yu Mura decides to put Hamlet and toilets into a marriage of performance art. Yes, it sounds like a South Park Terrance and Phillip gag gone too far. It sounds like the kind of incomprehensible “high-brow” that the nuts-kicking Key & Peele sketch would make fun of. For me, it’s my first attendance at the Under the Radar festival, which, blessedly, didn’t die after all.
A fellow begins the show by trying to recite “to be, or not to be,” only to be interrupted by rude farts. “I’ve never been so confused,” an audience member whispered behind me. Three white body-suited performers (the comedically versatile Takuro Takasaki, G.K. Masayuki and Yuki Matsuo) wander the stage for pantomime toiletry activities: tossing, consuming, defecating and re-tossing invisible feces and recite warped versions of Hamlet verses. This isn’t telling the story of the Danish Prince’s tragedy as it is comically bastardizing them to fit the toilet theme. Hamlet‘s motive of revenge against his uncle-cum-stepfather has to do with expelling a weight from his abdomen.
And yet, if you can believe it, Mura is onto something. At the post-show artist talk, Mura shared that the restroom is one of the few places where we face ourselves privately. When there’s a deep pain in our gut, we have a human desire to purge it, just as Hamlet wanted to get rid of the scrouge that was his uncle. He’s right. It’s up to you decide if you can ingest this kind of art.
Anyhow, you should check out more of the Under The Radar BIPOC-led productions here.