Fat Ham Reviews
The New York Times- Highly Recommended
"...This is Ijames's tongue-in-cheek style of wit: Of course the melancholy prince would have sung "Creep" had Thom Yorke and his band been around in 17th-century England. Without undermining its drama, "Fat Ham" pokes fun at the theatricality of Hamlet's anguish."
New York Theater- Somewhat Recommended
"...All along, the playwright has not been committed to the story of "Hamlet," but now he doesn't even seem committed to his own story. I suppose one could argue that he's commenting on the contrast between the artifice of theater and the reality of people's lives in the 21st century, especially Black people's lives - or, perhaps, on the white (theatergoing) gaze preferring such characters to be sorrowful. But the shifts feel too abrupt, and the whole enterprise too full of silly moments, for the playwright's ultimate choices to feel like anything more rigorous than his saying: OK, I've made my points; I don't know where to go from here; it's time to party."
Time Out New York- Highly Recommended
"...Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but in Fat Ham redemption is what's on the menu. The outlines of James Ijames's delicious riff on Hamlet are Shakespearean, but the point and the punch lines-and most of the poetry-are the playwright's own. Morose online college student Juicy (an endearing Marcel Spears) is upset that his newly widowed mom Tedra (Nikki Crawford) has already remarried his scheming uncle Rev (Billy Eugene Jones). His father was an abusive killer who got shanked in prison, but when Pap returns as a ghost (also played by Jones) to reveal that Rev was to blame for his death-and to demand that his son avenge his murder-the queer and clever Juicy is torn over whether to continue the family traditions of toxic masculinity and violence. But can he choose pleasure over pain?"
TheaterMania- Highly Recommended
"...Fat Ham, a loose retelling of Hamlet, is an adaptation that does not care about fidelity, nor really about Shakespeare for that matter; the playbill even tells us "this ain't Shakespeare." This disavowal may seem blasphemous, but it allows Ijames to take Hamlet in directions it has never gone, letting the play become a vehicle for something new, something, dare I say, even better."
TheaterScene.net- Highly Recommended
"...James Ijames' Fat Ham (all puns intended) is the latest and most successful modern riff on the Bard turning Hamlet into an expression of the Black experience while at the same time having much fun at Hamlet's expense. As one of the few comedies to ever win the Pulitzer Prize, we should be hearing more soon from this talented playwright whose Kill Move Paradise in 2017 appears to be his only other New York credit, also directed by Saheem Ali. Already an associate artistic director/resident director with The Public Theater, Ali has previously worked wonders with Merry Wives, Nollywood Dreams, Shipwreck, Fires in the Mirror, The Rolling Stone, Passage, and Fireflies, among others at various theaters around town. As usual his casting choices are perfect to the nth degree."
NY Theatre Guide- Recommended
"...So it goes for Fat Ham, a broad and rollicking riff on Hamlet at The Public Theater. Running 90 unbroken minutes, it is by turns hilarious, chaotic and weirdly lovely - like when a young man touches another and tells him: "You feel like a fabric that cost too much." In the end, the play isn't all that deep, but it bursts with so much heart you leave with a grin on your face."
Stage Buddy- Highly Recommended
"...Winner of the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, "Fat Ham" is a revelation. Fun and modern. Instructive without being didactic. Familiar yet original. Juicy has decisions to make and, like Hamlet, he is indecisive. Can he believe the ghost? Should he continue the cycle of violence of the family? Can he get a degree in Human Resources especially since he doesn't like people?"
Theater Pizzazz- Recommended
"...Fat Ham is expertly performed all the way down the line, each character milked for their heightened characteristics. Its flamboyant style is more fun to contemplate than the serious themes that want to be aired; many surely will find much to enjoy here without overly cogitating about its ideas. Many others, I suspect, will wonder just what about Fat Ham makes it worthy of a Pulitzer Prize. Let the controversy begin! The readiness is all."
The Observer- Highly Recommended
"...Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Hamlet is quite a carnal text, marbled with Pepto Bismol-levels of carrion, decay, and digestion. Take the title prince's "too, too solid flesh" that he wishes would melt away; funeral baked meats coldly feed a royal wedding; and who could forget "how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar." Also, the state? Rotten. Ingenious playwright James Ijames goes further, hacking skin and muscle off the classic, preserving some bones, and slow-cooking a savory, lip-smacking gumbo of the remains. Fat Ham is a butchering, but a loving and filling one; just unbutton your jeans and enjoy it."
Theatrely- Somewhat Recommended
"...Fat Ham is the crystallization of all my current grievances. James Ijames' play, freshly awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, quite literally asks the question: What if we sapped all the blood from Hamlet, and gave him some sexy trade as a romantic interest, instead? What if Shakespeare's warning against paralysis in the face of encroaching harm did some breathing exercises modeled on self-help infographics because you deserve it, you smol bean!"
New York Stage Review- Highly Recommended
"...Is Hamlet the most popular character in New York City this summer? There's the new Brett Dean-composed contemporary opera at the Metropolitan Opera. The Robert Icke-directed Almeida Theatre production of Shakespeare's tragedy at the Park Avenue Armory. And at the Public Theater, in a co-production between the Public and the National Black Theatre, the highly anticipated New York premiere of James Ijames 2022 Pulitzer Prize-winning Fat Ham."