L.A. Local, Theater
Apr 8, 2024

‘Fat Ham’ Geffen Playhouse Review

Fat Ham has landed at Geffen Playhouse, this Broadway darling is set to charm Los Angeles too.

Image: Jeff Lorch

Fat Ham first premiered in 2022 at The Public Theater as a co-production between National Black Theatre and The Public Theater. Fat Ham made its Broadway premiere on April 12, 2023 and now April 2024 welcomes the production to Los Angeles at our iconic Geffen Playhouse. The play was awarded the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was nominated for five Tony Awards including Best Play.

Image: Jeff Lorch

Synopsis: Meet Juicy, a young, queer Black man with a Shakespearean-sized dilemma. When the ghost of his dead father shows up at his family’s BBQ wedding reception demanding his murder be avenged, does the poetic and sensitive Juicy have it in him to do the deed, or will he “to thine own self be true?” See what the New York Times calls “a hilarious yet profound tragedy smothered in comedy,” in this Pulitzer Prize–winning take on Hamlet, direct from Broadway to L.A. 

Image: Jeff Lorch

Who said Hamlet can’t be a comedy? Clearly the playwright who re-imagined this classic wasn’t about to let a little thing like death bring down the mood of the story. Written by American playwright James Ijames, he’s a man who clearly thought that nothing could make an audience roar with laughter more than death and bbq. Chris Herbie Holland plays Juicy’s buddy, Tio, and he steals the show. We couldn’t of been happier to see him return to the story. His performance is incredibly dynamic, jam-packed with charisma, and a rather matter of fact performance that delivers big laughs and a very thought-provoking monologue. Overall, we’d say that Fat Ham is loosely based on Hamlet, they do keep the whole talking ghost bit. Although we’re pretty sure Shakespeare never imagined his ghost popping up from a bbq grill and disappearing through a backyard’s floor boards, but that is all in the fun. Juicy makes ‘juicy’ discoveries as his father’s ghost reveals his soon to be step-father did him in. As the jaw dropping news pairs with a southern bbq and family hijinks, the story unleashes a dark comedic plot within the play as you soon learn that no-one is who or what they want to be. With family dynamics anyone can relate to this is one play you need to add to the top of your to-do list this weekend.

Please know the show has been extended through Sunday, May 5, hurry and grab your tickets before the show is gone!