The Hamilton Complex Review by Jonathan Evans – Young Critic On The Edge

The Hamilton Complex

Presented by Hetpaleis 

The Birmingham Rep as part of On The Edge 2016 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

“When a woman says ‘I have nothing to wear!’, What she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m suppose to be today.”

-Caitlin Moran, How To Be A Woman

Experiencing The Hamilton Complex is like looking at the beginning of womanhood through a prism. The same thing is being shown, but spilt in as many different aspects as possible. We are shown thirteen girls all with different names, they perform a series of different acts with recurring images and colours before us with very loose themes connecting them.

The set is constructed like a dreamscape. A rainbow of toys hangs high above, Greek plans stand to the side and a blown-up painting of a garden serves as the background and two television screens at each side of the stage. It effectively creates an other-worldly setting to tell us that we are in a surreal world.

Het Hamiltoncomplex

The Hamilton Complex. Photo Credit: Hetpaleis

This isn’t really a story, this is a series of performances with recurring images and themes and ideas weaved throughout the whole thing, sowing it into a whole. There are no but’s and therefore that lead to any big character revelations.

The girls performances are by far the best thing about the whole show. These girls are actually between the ages of twelve to fourteen and they deftly execute complex, difficult scenes that any experienced adult would be challenged to pull off. As well as that they have long complex performances, dance moves and numerous, fast costume changes to pull off all while speaking in a foreign language to them.

Though the focus is on thirteen-year-old girls this is not a show for children. There is which artistic imagery here that children (even a few young teenagers) will have a hard time grasping. It takes a more mature mind with the ability to cut though the images and understand the meaning. Behind me was a class of (approximately) thirteen-year-old boys and they were giggling at numerous sections. The show operates on the same level of Susperia, Eraserhead and Utena and that is the level of ‘Pure Art.’ Do not think in terms of geography, exact real world roles or function. This world operates on symbolism and metaphor.

The Hamilton Complex is one of the most all-encompassing portraits of Fe-males that you will see. It takes its girls and shows them through every spectrum. It shows them as unruly, mischievous, feral animals but also protective of one another. They can be led around like animals, the ones that pull the lead, the dominated, but also the dominators. It all depends on what costume they’re put in, or choose to wear.

Jonathan Evans participation in Young Critics On The Edge was made possible through his involvement with Mess Up The Mess, Get the Chance (Wales) 

Young Critics On The Edge  is a collaboration between Barnstorm Theatre Company,NAYD (National Association for Youth Drama) Ireland and Mess Up The Mess, Get the Chance (Wales) in conjunction with the Symposium strand of theASSITEJ Artistic Gathering for 2016.


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