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.


Young Critics On The Edge- Panel Discussion – Full Audio


Young Critics On The Edge Panel Discussion Photo Credit: Alan King 

On Thursday July 7th, twelve Young Critics from all across the UK and Ireland met for the final time as part of Young Critics On The Edge.

During this session the Young Critics presented their findings to an audience of Symposium Delegates at BCU Birmingham. Here they discussed their process over the previous four days. They also provided critical responses to the four performances they attended as part of Young Critics On The Edge.

The session was chaired by Anna Galligan from Barnstorm Theatre Company with technical support by Alan King of the National Association for Youth Drama (Ireland)

You can listen to the Full Edited recording of the session here

Or you can listen to the session in smaller sections here
































A big thank you to all the On The Edge Festival staff for all their kindness and goodwill over the five days in Birmingham.


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.


Boing! & The Hamilton Complex -Two Reviews by Young Critic On The Edge Niamh Meehan


The Mac Birmingham 


Travelling Light present us with a tale touched by the magic of Christmas Eve, as brothers Joel and Wilkie battle to sleep in anticipation of Santa’s arrival. Boing is simplistic in concept and effectively minimalistic in design ensuring our focus is consistently immersed in the antics of the two brothers as they grapple with their bursts of energy. The spectacle of this multifaceted show is mesmerising and elevated by the meticulous and beautiful execution of movement and dance sequences on stage. This effervescent story narrates a universal experience and is littered with tender moments, which will resonate with warmth in children and adults alike. Boing is a dazzling, boisterous and inimitable production; an experience to be shared.

The Hamilton Complex


The Hamilton Complex is a beautifully experimental production, which narrates the tumultuous transition of adolescence in an unapologetically uncensored fashion. Thirteen girls on the threshold of their teenage years begin to deal with the death of their childhood selves and the painful birth of their adolescent identities. The girls’ evolution is marked by events which appear sporadic in nature; mimetic of the incoherence and energy the fluctuation of teenage life presents to its bewildered victims. Moments of elation, underpinned by the illusion of self-discovery, are annihilated by the challenging encounters the teenagers grapple with, as they mature. However the girls stake their individuality among their uncertainty ; a form of personal success on its own and a beautiful message in itself. The girls become victors of a change that nature decided for them, and they survive and prevail. The production shamelessly presents to us the good, the bad, and the ugly faces of change through a visually powerful performance, full of movement, colour and questions – the answers of which we decide for ourselves.



Both shows played as part of On The Edge 2016

Niamh Meehan 

Come join Young Critics On The Edge  on July 7th  in the BCU Parkside Building, Lecture Theatre from 5-6.30 to hear the Young Critics critical responses to several productions from On The Edge .

Learn about more Young Critics that are On The Edge here 

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 the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering for 2016.