Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Apollinaire Theatre Company Presents Apollinaire In The Park 2016 - "Hamlet" - A Fascinating Production!

For much of its  existence, Apollinaire Theatre Company has offered outdoor free bi-lingual theater productions as a gift to their Chelsea neighbors and the rest of Boston's theater-loving community. This summer's offering is once again set in the picturesque PORT Park next to the very formidable salt piles of the Eastern Salt Company on the waterfront in Chelsea.  As a matter of fact, Director Danielle Fauteux Jacques has brilliantly incorporated the salt piles into the action of the play.

"Hamlet" is presented in Promenade fashion, with many scenes being presented to an audience that is seated (bring your own folding chair!), but then as the action shifts to another section of the park, the audience members are escorted to the new venue and they stand to watch the action of the play continue to unfold.  This gambit works to stunning effect on the two occasions when the aforementioned salt piles come into play.  The brilliant Brooks Reeves as Hamlet delivers the iconic "To be or not to be" soliloquy from atop a salt pile.  The effect is that he seems in danger of hurling himself into oblivion if his choice is indeed "not to be." It is a powerful image and a memorable moment. Later in the play, as Ophelia is to be buried, the graveyard scene is staged at another portion of the salt pile, with the gravediggers standing below ground in the hollowed out grave.  I have seen many productions of "Hamlet," and this was the most gripping and imaginative staging of this scene I have ever seen.

Emily Edstrom as Horatio
Yorick as himself
Brooks Reeves as Hamlet
Julee Antonellis as Gravedigger
Apollinaire In The Park
PORT Park, Chelsea
Through July 31st

The stellar performance of Mr. Reeves is well supported by a solid ensemble cast.  Among those whose performances stood out are:
  • Joe Reynolds as Francisco, Player Queen and Gravedigger.  His comic turn as the hairy chested Queen in the play-within-the-play is a highlight.
  • Julee Antonellis shows great versatility in a variety of roles, including Bernardo, The Player, and the Gravedigger who exhumes the skull of "poor Yorick."
  • David Alejandro Quiroz portrays Marcellus, Lucianus, Messenger, and Gentleman.
  • Emily Edstrom is solid as Hamlet's companion, Horatio.
  • Tony Dangerfield is properly sepulchral as the Ghost.
  • Robert Cope plays Claudius, pretender to the throne of Denmark, with regal authority.
  • Mariela Lopez-Ponce is equally regal and haunted as Queen Gertrude, and is robed beautifully by Costume Designer Susan Paino.
  • Cora Della Katz gets things rolling in offering the Prologue to the play, as well as portraying Cornelia and Osric.
  • Zachary Rice as Laertes develops a nice arc to his character, moving from bosom friend to Hamlet to deadly foe.  The sword play between Laertes and Hamlet is well staged and convincingly performed.
  • Floyd Richardson is perfect as the unhinged Chamberlain Polonius.
  • Deniz Khateri is a heart-breaking Ophelia, whose descent into madness and suicide is palpable and believable.
  • Gwendolyn Squires portrays Reynalda and 2nd Player Queen.
  • Meredith Saran is Rosencrantz and Julian Sky Aldana-Tejada is Guildenstern, the two companions of Hamlet who are co-opted by Claudius to spy upon the troubled Prince.
Brooks Reeves as Hamlet
Zachary Rice as Laertes
Apollinaire In The Park
PORT Park, Chelsea
Through July 31st
Music Director David Reiffel has composed some original music that accompanies much of the action, with several cast members doubling as musicians.  Director Jacques' vision for this production is enhanced by effective lighting by Chris Bocchiaro.

The play runs  Wednesday through Sunday evenings at 8:00 through July 31st.  The play is free, but each patron is encouraged to give what they can to support this worthy effort.  Whether you have memorized many of Shakespeare's lines from this play, or you are seeing this tragedy for the first time, you will find much to enjoy in this excellent production.

Patrons are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets, even a picnic meal. Free parking is available at the park, and a food truck is present before each performance.

Be aware that a special Spanish language version of "Hamlet" will be performed by young Apollinaire artists on July 30th and 31st.

Apollinaire Theatre Website



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