Shakespeare is Still Going Strong

By John Farrell

It’s time for Shakespeare.

For the 17th season Shakespeare by the Sea is presenting plays by the bard of Avon at Point Fermin Park for the next few weeks before going on tour to more than 20 sites around Southern California and then returning for their final performances in San Pedro.

The season opened with A Midsummer Night’s Dream and this past week with Hamlet. On June 28 at 8 p.m. there will be a performance of Midsummer Hamlet will trod the boards (taken down every night and re-constructed the next evening) July 3 and 5. All performances are free. On Aug. 15 the tour returns to San Pedro for the final performance of Hamlet. The final performance of Midsummer is Aug.16. Performances from Beverly Hills to South Pasadena, from Lakewood to Newport Beach, are scheduled.

Midsummer opened the Shakespeare by the Sea festival June 12 in a production that took a slightly different tack, with Bottom, sitting in the audience and members of the cast watching as the play proceeds. Bottom is played by the play’s director Patrick Vest, and he has crafted a more-than-workmanlike version, with lots of role doubling. Kathryn Farren plays Hippolyta and Titania, B.J. Allman Oberon and Theseus. G. Anthony Joseph is both Puck, the mischievous sprite and Philostrate, Theseus’ servant. Company veteran Andy Kallok is Egeus and in a brief but hilarious turn also plays Mustardseed as a gruff and unwilling participant. Demetrius is Garret Replogle, Lysander is Robert McHalffey, Hermia is Olivia Schlueter-Corey and Helena is Bridget Garwood.

Shakespeare by the Sea decided to go with of the Bard’s est this summer. There is no play that ranks higher in the Shakespearean canon than Hamlet. But Hamlet is a huge play, more than four hours when every line and scene is included, and this is a much briefer version, including all the well-known soliloquies and action, but bigger on sword-fights than poetry. Cylan Brown is a seemingly very young Hamlet, caught in the web of his father’s death, and the remarriage of his uncle Claudius (Jay Castle) to his mother Gertrude (Kristina Teves). There is a lot of sexual attraction between the two and that makes Hamlet even more miserable.

Horatio, Hamlet’s best friend (B.J. Allman) and Ophelia (the very attractive Olivia Delgado) try to make Hamlet happy, but he cannot get over what may have happened. And, Polonius (Charles M. Howell) doesn’t make things better. The play ends with Hamlet, Gertrude, Ophelia and Claudius all dead, but it seems a bit too fast for all that.

Shakespeare by the Sea has a few more weeks in San Pedro, then goes on tour and returns to Point Fermin Park on Aug.15 and 16 for the end of their run.

Details: (310) 217-7596www.shakespearebythesea.org
Venue: Point Fermin Park
Location: 807 Paseo del Mar, San Pedro

 

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