by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
Hamlet ¿Estás o no estás? by Victor Grovas (and William Shakespeare) and directed by Ricardo Servin turns Shakespeare’s Hamlet Prince of Denmark on its ear in an apocalyptic, absurd, contemporary drama that deals with themes of consumerism, drug dealing, the corruption of political power and how mainstream pop media elevates, fetishizes and glorifies all of it.
It is a uniquely designed, Spanish-language only production and one that was completely intriguing to sit through. The stage elements alone could have told this story quite neatly but Teatro Contacto has chosen instead to offer tragic allegory extraordinaire headlined by actor Ruy Nieves as a more violent, unpredictable Hamlet, side by side with elements of silent film, clown, sensational news flashes, tribal, Scandinavian and Celtic references all wrapped up in what the company describes as the turbulent, lunatic, upside-down Mexican society in which they live.
Indeed, this evocative, Hamlet-gone-nuclear compilation is tangibly and deliciously weird as it is funny and sometimes frightening. Much more enculturated to the Mexican experience than a cooler Danish ethos, it is entirely dramatically farcical yet raw and honest to the core.
For an English-only speaking audience Hamlet ¿Estás o no estás? should be easy to follow if you already know the story of Hamlet. If you are unfamiliar, read the cliff notes before the production.