Review: You'll Want to See What Happens Next in "Hamlet: La Telenovela"
Hamlet: La Telenovela
Translation/literary adaptation by José María Ruano de la Haza
Directed by Federico Mallet
Presented by FRIGID New York, Something from Abroad, and Quemoción at the Kraine Theater
85 E 4th St., Manhattan, NYC and via livestreaming
July 21-30, 2023
|Martha Preve, Silvana Gonzalez, Andy Price, Federico Mallet, Shlomit Oren, Castor Pepper, Gabriel Rosario, and Pelayo Alvarez. Courtesy of Emily Owens PR
|Shlomit Oren, Castor Pepper, and Gabriel Rosario. Courtesy of Emily Owens PR
|Shlomit Oren. Courtesy of Emily Owens PR
Hamlet: La Telenovela presents itself as a television broadcast, complete with commercials–cleverly, the only time that Shakespeare's text is directly quoted–and fourth wall breaking moments. Spilling at times beyond the stage itself, the vibrant color and evocative set design make the audience forget that it's in a black box theater. The music and lighting throughout are suitably (melo)dramatic, and the show gives some non-Shakespearian songs not only to Ofelia (whose madness comes across as a result as angrier and more empowered) but also to Hamlet's spectral father. The costuming includes some partly buttoned shirts (Laertes and Hamlet share both a love of Ofelia and a narcissistic love of themselves) and some rather glamorous dresses that speak to the wealth and status of most of these characters (as does the way in which Gertrudis copes with events). As the gravedigger (Pelayo Álvarez) says, all those people in the castle are crazy: and there is a suggestion that it is a privilege of rank to be so.
Exuberantly embodying this clutch of doomed elites, the ensemble is a joy to watch. Mallet, for instance, makes for a refreshingly energetic and engaging Hamlet and Price gives us one of the more sympathetic Claudios we've seen, while Ayora renders Horacio as a geeky sidekick and Sánchez-Pepper's Polonius analogue Apolonia is a riotously overbearing force of maternity seldom without a fan in her hand. Hamlet: La Telenovela realizes that rare achievement of making you wish that Hamlet were longer.