Island Fringe Festival presents debut of new Lorne Elliot play

Comedian Lorne Elliott debuts his new show, A Better Play Than Hamlet, at the Island Fringe Festival in Charlottetown.

Comedian promises A Better Play Than Hamlet for world premiere

The comedian presents the premiere of his new show, A Better Play Than Hamlet, at the Island Fringe Festival. (Jon Sylvester)

The Island Fringe Festival is underway in Charlottetown, and one of the most anticipated plays is a brand-new work from the popular comedian Lorne Elliott.

It has a promising title as well: A Better Play Than Hamlet.

Elliott dropped by the CBC studios to tell Karen Mair all about the performance on Mainstreet.

That wasn't that difficult for him, because like many others, he's a P.E.I. resident in warmer weather.

"Just like the mosquitoes, I'm back here," he told Mair. "I'm summer people."

In his new work, Elliot plays a professor who is annoyed that Hamlet has been removed from the course syllabus. (
The fringe festival is a great place to debut a show, as audiences are ready for just about anything.

Elliott said for a world premiere like this, the crowd is generally ready to give the performer a break, at least at the start.

"They come generally with a very positive attitude towards seeing some sort of a show, you know," he said.

"So you do have five or 10 minutes of an audience's attention while they give you the benefit of the doubt. It's what you can do with that five or 10 minutes I've discovered, whether you can make them want five or 10 minutes more, and et cetera, until the end of the night." 

While the play`s title might seem like quite a boast, it`s a jest of course, and the comedian was able to shed a little light on what to expect; he`ll be giving a lecture, and the audience will be the students.

Elliot's play is at the Culinary Institute until Sunday, Aug. 7. (Russ Hewitt)
"The conceit of it is, it's a university professor who's getting up with a bone to pick, and he's been studying Hamlet all his life," Elliott explained. "He's going to lay it on the line now that it's being dropped from the syllabus. And he's drunk, and hopefully humorous. We'll see."

Writing the play turned out to be quite a learning experience, because first Elliot had to become familiar with the subject matter.

"So I got to read Hamlet, I'm really glad I did, it's such a strange, twisted piece," he said of Shakespeare's work. "How did he come up with that? That's really what genius is. How the hell did he think of that? How did he get that particular angle in, to understanding how humans behave?"

If you'd like to see how Lorne Elliott behaves, A Better Play Than Hamlet is being presented in the perfect place, a lecture hall, this one in the Culinary Institute at 4 Sydney Street.

On Friday, it's at 8 p.m., Saturday 5 p.m., and Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

With files from Mainstreet