The King’s Head Theatre, London
There is no doubt that the life of Stevenage raised Formula one racer Lewis Hamilton is an unconventional choice for a musical. The acknowledgement of this fact by both the cast and creative team behind Hamilton (Lewis) makes for a somewhat engaging but only sometimes amusing musical.
When the Broadway musical Hamilton transferred to the West End many Brits expressed confusion as to why anyone would want a Lewis Hamilton inspired musical. Hamilton (Lewis) at the Kings Head Theatre explores the strange similarities between the two men, treating Lewis Hamilton’s rise to fame with the same enthusiasm and importance as founding father Alexander Hamilton. Inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway and West End hit show Hamilton, Hamilton (Lewis) takes the most cherished aspects of its predecessor and parodies its success. Mimicking the music, characterisation and rags to riches character arc in particular – the resemblance is oddly similar.
Walking into the smoky King’s Head Theatre, (a sweltering space!) decorated with flags and toy cars, it was obvious a unique performance was set to be delivered. From choreography to lighting design, the technical elements of show really showcased the talented creative team behind the scenes, a particular strong point being David Eaton’s music. Humorous lyricism, distinct composition polished with a Hamilton flair excels the narrative in a delightful manner. These elements displayed potential but it was the story, or lack thereof, that limited the show from being truly compelling.
After the first half Hamilton’s storyline becomes somewhat repetitive and predictable, lacking the conflict and intensity that engaged the audience at the beginning. Fiona English gets some great laughs in moments which break the fourth wall, poking fun at the idea of the musical and the construction of theatre in general and although the lack of an overarching moral and substantial storyline becomes the subject of a quite amusing joke near the end, as an audience we are still left unsatisfied. We are left wondering just how much better the show could be if the story was twisted to include more weight to the conflict our protagonist faces, especially due to the huge amount of bad press the man himself received from the LGBTQ+ community after a homophobic/transphobic remark made on social media.
A particular highlight was the outstanding performances delivered from each member of the four person cast. Letitia Hector (Lewis Hamilton) bought the quite dull media personality of Lewis Hamilton to life, portraying him as a driven, bright spark, probably the character most embodying the essence of the original Hamilton musical. Both Louis Mackrodt and Jamie Barwood (Alonso) had great comedic timing, especially the flamboyant Fernando Alonso, who bought a ridiculously fun energy.
Overall, Hamilton (Lewis) ironically proves its own hypothesis to be true, that a musical based on a title or sole tweet lacks the substance to engage and compel. While that joke may have got a laugh, I can’t help feeling disappointed by a piece of theatre that, much like the sport of F1 racing, after an exciting first lap, quickly became monotonous.
© Harry Richards 2018
Hamilton Lewis is running until the 22nd September. Book Now.