Something is rotten on the Chelsea waterfront as Apollinaire Theatre Company continues its tradition of staging free, outdoor, immersive theater with Hamlet, which will run through July 31 at PORT Park on the Chelsea Waterfront and stars the terrific Brooks Reeves as Hamlet.
Though this is only the second summer that Apollinaire will be performing at PORT Park, it is the 13th summer of the annual outdoor production. (For 11 years, Apollinaire’s summer productions were at Mary O’Malley Park, also in Chelsea). Keeping up with their tradition of offering free bilingual productions, Chelsea Youth Theatre students will perform Hamlet in Spanish on July 30 and 31 at 6 pm.
Hamlet, King of Denmark, has died, and his brother, Claudius, has assumed the throne and married the king’s widow, Gertrude. When Prince Hamlet returns home from studying abroad, the ghost of the dead king appears to him and tells him that his death was not natural and that he was murdered by his own power-hungry brother. (In comparison, a private email server seems relatively harmless, doesn’t it?) He urges Hamlet to avenge his death, and Hamlet sets his mind to it.
While the play will begin and end in the park’s amphitheater, director Danielle Fauteux Jacques is taking full advantage of the uniquely designed park, and the audience will follow the actors up and down the river to various locales. Despite all the movement, audience members are still encouraged to bring chairs and blankets, and food trucks will be at most performances. According to Fauteux Jacques, Hamlet’s scenes are so episodic that it really lends itself to this kind of promenade format. “It’ll really be an adventure,” said Fauteux Jacques.
Stone platforms below a bridge will act as ramparts, the area between a set of water guns as Gertrude’s dressing room, and the famous graveyard scene will take place adjacent to a towering mountain of road salt. In fact, Dan Adams of Landing Studio, designer of PORT Park, will be creating the graveyard set using salt from the salt piles. Hamlet is unified by death, and it is—among other things—a ghost story, which makes the play’s darker scenes ideally suited to the eeriness of the waterfront park at night.
Connections between the politically corrupt world of Hamlet’s Denmark and the political shit show of today are not difficult to make, and that’s exactly what Fauteux Jacques is tapping into for this production. “We tried to create a contemporary Denmark of the mind, so it’s not exactly the United States or Denmark, but a contemporary age,” she said. “Obviously, we’re in an election year, and it’s hard not to be inspired by the despicable goings-on in politics.”
HAMLET. 7.13-31, WED-SUN. 8 PM. PORT PARK, 99 MARGINAL ST., CHELSEA. FREE. APOLLINAIRETHEATRE.COM