Review: DICKIE BEAU: RE-MEMBER ME, Latitude Festival

By: Jul. 19, 2017

"Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you: trippingly on the tongue." Without uttering almost a single word until the final scene, Dickie Beau speaks volumes in his latest show. Mixing mediums, lip synching and Shakespeare, Dickie Beau: Re-Member Me is an eclectic Hamlet mixtape.

Taking centre stage in the Theatre Tent at Latitude, this production is more documentary than drama. Audio recordings of Richard Eyre, Ian McKellen and others reveal their vast experiences of Hamlet. Then there is Dickie Beau, an actor and writer who has no experience of Hamlet, has never played Hamlet and realises he may never. As these actors "speak the speech", Beau lip synchs along. On a stage strewn with costumes, body parts and crowns, Beau re-members the actors as they retell their stories.

Re-Member Me originally played at the Almeida, on the very set and stage of Robert Icke's Hamlet. The majesty of those performances is self-evident: playing the history of Hamlet on that stage at that moment in time. However, the show loses none of its magic in transit: it is the content not the context which works so well.

Beau brings his own mixtape of skills in order to create this mixtape of Hamlets. Dance, lip synching and movement all combine to create visually stunning moments, particularly in the opening. So broad is Beau's frame of reference, we jump from Shakespeare to Star Wars to the Village People. For the second time this year, the "YMCA" is used in a production of Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare's Globe being the other). And for the second time this year, it works brilliantly, serving as the perfect anthem for this Hamlet. "I have of late - but wherefore I know not - lost all my mirth" bemoans the Prince, a young man most certainly feeling down.

The interviews with the casts and creatives alone could form a documentary or film. Conducted and recorded by Beau himself, these extracts were painstakingly edited together to form a whole, cohesive script. The second half of the show sees four pre-recorded clips of Beau play on a large screen, lip synching to their quotes. This allows Beau to assemble the scattered body parts and costumes in real time, though the "promised end" of this is visually underwhelming.

Unfortunately, this performance was plagued by "the slings and arrows" of technical issues. Somewhat ironically, the clips and audio came out of synch although Beau dealt with this incredibly well. The second half is heavily dependent upon this technology, with the screened conversations. While it may be demanding to lip synch four audios of four unique persons, this scene could have benefited from more live lip synch, a critique I would extend to the majority of the second act.

In one short hour, Beau creates a handful of caricatures, each distinct from the last. From the wry McKellen, to the flamboyant John Gielgud, and finally ending with Beau's own Hamlet. It's a meta-theatrical and marvelous move: giving a voice to the affecting story of Ian Charleson, his and others' stories speak to Beau and his Hamlet.

The world may be "out of joint" because of technical issues, but Beau is in his element here. Dickie Beau: Re-Member Me is hard to forget.

Dickie Beau: Re-Member Me next plays at the Contact Theatre, Manchester

Read our interview with Dickie Beau at Latitude Festival

Photo credit: Robin Fisher

2023 Regional Awards


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