Ser o no ser esa es la cuestion (To Be or not to Be)
This was the classic question posed by Apollinaire Theatre Company in partnership with Teatro Chelsea and the City of Chelsea in a bilingual production of Shakespeare’s classic play, Hamlet which took place on Fridays and Saturdays only from August 4-19 live and in person at various locations in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Though it was not necessary to understand both Spanish and English to enjoy this show and does not take away the gravitas of Shakespeare’s eloquent text, those who understood the dialogue in Spanish may have been at an advantage. The free production was 90 minutes with no intermission.
Each performance featured a pre-show that offered take out or delivery dinner, live entertainment, and a pop up Beer Garden by BearMoose Brewing Company at 6:30 pm prior to the performance at 8 pm. Click here to see what is next for Apollinaire Theatre Company and Teatro Chelsea this fall.
Every summer for the past 20 years with donor support, the Apollinaire Theatre Company has been presenting outdoor theatre productions free to the public in partnership with the city of Chelsea. This year’s production of the Shakespearean classic, Hamlet mixed the traditional with the contemporary while keeping the audience on its feet. Intricately directed and cleverly staged by Danielle Fauteaux Jacques with lighthearted chorography by Audrey Johnson, the show is an immersive experience as the production expands beyond the stage and cast members can enter from anywhere.
Though the roads were blocked off, there was still plenty that might have distracted this focused cast. However disruptive, outdoor disturbances such as traffic, noises or foot traffic did not distract them from their performances for an instant. Armed with microphones, it was fascinating to watch each scene unfold complete with transportable lighting, sound, ominous sound effects with Diana Mediola and Juhi Nagpal‘s elaborate sets and props. How complicated it must have been to stage something like this while gathering an increasing and surrounding crowd led to each destination by a single notebook.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet is about the Prince of Denmark who discovers his mother has married his uncle after his father has been murdered. An urgent message inspires Hamlet to believe ‘something is rotten in the state of Denmark.’
Hamlet is a compelling drama that boasts some iridescent and noteworthy special effects such as blue smoke drifting above Paul Benford-Bruce’s haunting figure on a distinctive blue tinged city fountain lit by Joe Morales. Resolute, firm, and eerie, Benford-Bruce delivers a memorable performance as Hamlet’s father. David Reiffel’s ominous and echoing sound design and composition lent to the foreboding mystique of the production.
Nodding to the Elsinore, Denmark setting during the late middle ages while boasting a sleek and contemporary flair, Hamlet blended the contemporary with the historical through its colorful, stately, and elegant costumes in furs, leathers, and glittering crowns by Elizabeth Rocha.
Armando Rivera as Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, led this impressive cast. Rivera exacted the alarming rage expected of Hamlet in the face of betrayal. Rivera excelled at Hamlet’s darkly playful, determined, and off kilter demeanor, especially in a powerful scene alone with Ophelia and with Brooks Reeves as Claudius.
Anna Riggins delivered an absorbing performance as Ophelia with a wide smile, bright eyed virtue, and a complete infatuation and intriguing chemistry with Rivera. Clinging to any sign of affection, Riggins offered a vulnerable and sympathetic performance. Riggins also shared a sweet chemistry with her brother, Laertes and Ron Lacey who portrays their proud and concerned father, Polonius. Alan Kuang is naturally charismatic in the role of valiant and forthright Laertes, especially during an all out and literal street fight with Rivera.
Brooks Reeves as Claudius achieved a suave poker face, but with just enough of a devious smirk to embellish this role with Paolo Ferrer as mysterious Gertrude, they are a beguiling pair. Claudius is a calculating character and left little room for sympathy. Reeves particularly shined during the play-within-a-play scene as Reeves exclaimed, ‘Get me some light!’ With skillful feigned concern and sarcasm, Reeves was well suited for the role as some of that demeanor is also on display in the Old North Church’s production of Revolution’s Edge through September.
Hamlet was not complete without the appearance of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, portrayed with jovial humor by Aloe Domizio and Paul St. Cyr respectively. Wheeling in on lit bicycles, they made a seeming pair of silly and dimwitted bookends as Hamlet’s childhood friends. However, like each character in this Shakespearean classic, they are more than meets the eye.
Apollinaire Theatre Company, in partnership with Teatro Chelsea and the City of Chelsea, presented an outdoor bilingual production of Shakespeare’s classic play, Hamlet which took place on Fridays and Saturdays only from August 4-19 live and in person at various locations in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Click here to see what is next for Apollinaire Theatre Company and Teatro Chelsea this fall.