This digital stream from the Kraine Theater comes with a warning that the translated titles may not be legible (as they are displayed on a screen on stage), but after all, this is Hamlet, so not much of a concern.
What is a telenovela? It is a type of serial drama or soap opera produced mainly in Latin America. So, this is Hamlet in that style, and we are in for a bit of fun. Although a parody of both Shakespeare and soap, this show has a remarkable hit rate.
Director Federico Mallet also plays the lead role of the Dane, supported by Andy Price, Silvana González, Martha Preve, Gabriel Rosario, Shlomit Oren, Castor Pepper and Pelayo Álvarez.
Hamlet: la telenovela is ptoduced by FRIGID New York, Something From Abroad and Quemoción. It oozes a sense of impish invention while fully understanding its source.
Full of melodrama and amusement, it makes a gender swap with Apolonia (Pepper), now the mother of Laertes (Rosario) and Ofelia (Oren), but no less loquacious, while being quite a bit more vicious with her constant fan in hand.
What also works well is the removal of unnecessary plots concerning Fortinbras and the dalse friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. This focuses the energy on others, for example, a raunchy Ofelia.
The telenovela love and messy death plots fit perfectly with Hamlet, and even the ‘commercials’, which quote Shakespeare exactly, fit in with the convention.
Even Macarena has its place as we start at the wedding party of Claudio (Price) and Gertudis (González) where they have been given pride of place on the cover of a celebrity gossip magazine.
As Hamlet broods and is persuaded to stay by his persuasive stepfather and his demonstrative mother, the story proper begins with the revelation of his father’s ghost and his quest for vengeance.
I found Mallet a very good Hamlet, clear, impressive, and eye-catching, while his direction really captures the mood of both the original play and of soaps on TV.
As Horatio (played as a male character), Preve embodies a true friend, while Rosario’s Laertes is the archetypal Latino hero writ large.
An entertaining piece of theatre, this may appeal to those open to their Shakespeare being shaken up a bit and proves again that there is life within the Bard from many angles.
The titles, by the way, were fine, but I’m not sure you need them if you either know the play or have a basic synopsis of what’s happening.
Images courtesy Emily Owens PR