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August 20, 2018 | by  | in TV |
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Tragicomic Webseries

Tragicomic is a re-envisioning of Hamlet and the latest project from local production team, The Candle Wasters. In a similar vein to their previous projects Nothing Much To Do, Bright Summer Night and Happy Playland, Tragicomic is a web series that tackles Shakespeare in a true-to-life modern context. The series follows Hannah Moore, a fifteen year old cartoonist who struggles to cope with her missing father and her mother’s new beau, all while navigating the fucked up waters of teenage adolescence.
Tragicomic blazes a trail by telling its story through cross-media means. The series incorporates Hannah’s thoughts and feelings throughout the series in the form of her webcomics depicted in the show. The artwork is beautifully drawn by co-creator and cartoonist Sally Bollinger and provides a further layer of meaning and description to the narrative. The show’s poetic animated sequences tell the story of Hannah the knight, haunted by a skeleton ghost, and her battle against the villainous Onion King. Prolific cartoonist Dylan Horrocks even cameos his art in the webcomics, and plays himself as Hannah’s hero on the show. The series is a showcase of passion. For Hannah’s it’s her passion for cartooning. For The Candle Wasters team, there’s a passion for telling emotional, meaningful stories that accurately represent perspectives of mental health, queerness and the teenage female experience. If there’s one thing that shines in Tragicomic, it’s the creative team’s awareness of its young feminist audience and its sense of purpose in accurately portraying an experience that is relatable, affecting and entertaining.
The series’ approach to Hannah’s sexuality is refreshingly multi-faceted and unique. The creators go beyond the coming out story or a fixation on the panic and confusion surrounding young romance. Hannah has a crush on her friend’s older sister — the Ophelia to her Hamlet. However, the series doesn’t exhaust its narrative focussing solely on the exploration of Hannah’s sexuality. It distinguishes itself as a story of a character who is queer, but is defined also by her aspirations to be a cartoonist and her longing to find her father, and have her pre-adolescent life back.
Tragicomic succeeds in its moments of fragility. Nova Moala Knox (Hannah) gives an honest portrayal of Bipolar Affective Disorder. From Hannah’s bouts of depression through to her moments of mania, the audience doesn’t always support Hannah’s actions but we do understand and empathise with her. While Tragicomic succeeds with Hannah’s characterisation, it struggles with its supporting cast. The cast itself is charming and diverse, delivering overall strong performances. However, there are moments of tailored awkwardness and stilted dialogue that don’t quite stick the desired landing, instead contributing to what seems like throwaway moments.
Tragicomic’s dedication to its Shakespearean source material, though admirable, disadvantages the series. Certain storylines and scenes are uneven or appear undeveloped and disjointed at times. It’s questionable whether these plot lines and issues are left to the audience to resolve or complete by scouring through their knowledge of Hamlet. Furthermore, certain character relationships are set up only to be quickly discarded and never given the opportunity to be explored.
In spite of my reservations, Tragicomic is a captivating watch. Its presentation, music, and moments of raw and poetic storytelling leave a lasting impression. Small, personal stories dealing with affectations like Hannah’s need to be told more frequently, and Tragicomic does so in an inspired and inventive way.
The Candle Wasters have crafted another important and charming web series which, but for a few blemishes, is a wonderful meditation on the difficulties of high school and maintaining relationships with family, friends, and self.

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