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Review: Hamlet

The Writers' Block #25 - Theme: a fictionalised story based on a true item from a newspaper

‘You what?’ Robbo asked too loudly, making many people turn and look.

The young woman repeated her demand in an audible whisper. Others around agreed with her.

‘Look, love, I’m talking to my sub-editor. She wants this in by nine so I can’t turn it off. I don’t care if it is going to start any moment.’

‘Huh.’ The cough came from the man in front.

‘What’s your problem, pal?’

Having received Robbo’s finger prod, the man turned, eyebrows and moustache seemingly living a life of their own on his otherwise bald head. His tongue moistened his lips as though preparing to strike. ‘Young man. This play shows no sign of finishing for at least another ninety tedious minutes.’

‘Eh? What is this? A kind of theatrical Guantanemo?’

‘Yes, very drole - but may I ask you to comply with the usher’s request?’

Robbo sucked through his teeth and played his trump card. ‘I’m Press, mate. Reviewing this shite.’

‘Likewise,’ grinned the bald man, popping Robbo’s pomposity. ‘I’m Terence Dingwall-Sotherby. The Times. But I’m being civilised about it. Suffering en silence as it were.’

Robbo looked around him and, for the first time, realised how many people had pads and pens and programmes, scrutinising the cast list like dodgy gamblers in a West End betting shop studying form.

‘It’s still the interval…’

‘Not for much longer.’

Robbo lost all confidence. He nodded his understanding and whispered into his phone. ‘Sam? Hello? No, I’ve gotta be quick. So far, it’s apparently only half-time. Hamlet’s ponced around a lot, looking depressed. He mumbles to himself, too. Probably on something. No real totty to speak of, except his girlfriend, but she’s a wet rag - no Page Three, if you get my drift -’

‘Oh, we get your drift,’ Terence interrupted. He stood and turned to face Robbo, allowing his ample stomach to rest on the back of the seat. Before Robbo could react, with the dexterity of a man who can swiftly un-shell a hard-boiled quail’s egg, dip it in organic Mediterranean sea salt and despatch it whole, he had the phone and was addressing Sam. ‘Terence of The Times here, sweetie. I’ve got your storyline for you. Ready? - “Young Prince procrastinates in front of innocent bystanders, some being children. He even stabs an official behind the arras. Every night. Twice on Saturdays. All funded by the taxpayer… We, The Sun, demand all theatres close…” - You can work out the headline and put in the exclamation marks, can’t you sweetie? ... My pleasure.’

He handed the mobile back to a stunned Robbo, turned and sat down, straightening his bow-tie as he did so.

Robbo looked up at the chandelier and begged it to drop, quickly, so that all this would end as soon as possible. Instead, the lights faded and the dreary second-half kicked off...

[Based on the fact that The Sun had employed a Theatre Critic to do West End shows]


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