Somehow the surtitles in English don’t quite go with the Spanish translation of Hamlet that’s heard in Hamlet, Principe de Cuba. But since the Spanish-language version is several times and ways removed from Shakespeare’s play, it suffers less than did the adaptation itself in English.
There’s still nothing onstage to distinguish the tropical setting as Cuba circa 1896, but there’s a very helpful special program. In Spanish, it gives an outline of Cuban history, illustrated.
The flashback structure remains, as does the action. It consists of progressing from major point to major point, soliloquy to soliloquy, in an order that gives less to think about and more to enjoy as adventure.
Frankie J. Alvarez seems to have grown fiercer in Hamlet’s interactions with others, especially those he’s convinced conspire against him. As in the English version, he’s still possessed by the Ghost of his father, but the latter’s times of leaving are more definite. Hamlet still appears funny-crazy but less like Groucho Marx.
Gisela Chipe seems to inject added passion and confusion into Ofelia via Spanish intonations, as does Mercedes Herrero dignity into Gertrudis. I found Emilio Delgado as sly a Claudio as a Claudius.
Replacing Asolo rep actors in substantial roles are Raul Duran and Gonzalo Madurga. Duran seem a bit young as Polonio and relates more to Laertes than Ofelia. He plays down Polonio’s humor until the play scene but is at home with it as the Sepulturero of Ofelia’s grave.
Madurga as Santero appears to be a Cuban kind of witch doctor or holy man somehow connected with the Ghost’s first appearance to Hamlet. Madurga also is a heavy (both in weight and demeanor) as the Actor Rey (Player King). I prefer less melodramatic James Clarke in these roles. Both actors also play smaller bits.
The newest graduates of FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training all speak Spanish (some newly learned) in this version. With ease, Luke Bartholomew still stands out as Horacio. Jake Staley as Rosencrantz is less at ease, but Jon-Michael Miller makes it through Guildenstern’s lines without a miss.
Katie Cunningham does as good work in Spanish as in English with a dignified Actor Reina and other women. Geoff Knox handles a number of small parts. Benjamin Boucvalt’s best is Osric, though the role is diminished in both Asolo Rep’s versions.
A film shown should have made it clear that Tony Stopperan’s Fortinbras is a surrogate for you-know-who as leader of the Rough Riders.
To clear up a question I posed in my earlier review of the earlier Hamlet, Prince of Cuba, I report that the Spanish used by the actors comes in a variety of national types and dialects. Cuban predominates, being used by most of the leads. I wonder how that went over in Miami and if Hispanics other than Cubans attended?
Because I sat in front row center this time, I could see well every person at the wedding ball of Gertrudis and Claudio. Every man but he was wearing a black tux. So why does Gertrudis step out to the tuxedoed Hamlet and ask him to cast his knighted color off? Yes, there’s still a devil in details of Asolo Rep’s new Hamlet production.