“To be or not to be, that is the question.” These words are among the most famous in the English language, thanks to William Shakespeare, who turned 450 years old this year.
In honor of the Western world’s most famous playwright, the inimitable Globe Theatre will visit Costa Rica for a one-night performance at Teatro Espressivo on Saturday night. Among the most revered stage companies in the world, the Globe will present “Hamlet,” one of Shakespeare’s most beloved and enduring plays.
Why Costa Rica? Because The Globe’s touring company is attempting to perform in every single country on Earth, a tour cheekily dubbed “Globe to Globe.”
“I doubt that any production has ever played to a bigger range of venues,” said executive producer Tom Bird in a printed interview provided by the company. “We [started] in London’s beautiful, sixteenth-century Middle Temple Hall with its amazing hammerbeam roof, and we’ll be rounding off at Hamlet’s own Elsinore Castle before returning to the Globe. In between, we’re playing plush red-velvet auditoria; the über-modern National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing; Ancient Greek and Roman amphitheatres; Djemaa el-Fna, the main square in Marrakesh, and a beautiful theatre built into the rainforests of St. Lucia.”
In England, The Globe Theatre is a faithful replica of the original Globe, the large cylindrical playhouse in which Shakespeare first produced his plays. The Globe is now making its way through Latin America, with a recent stop in Honduras and a performance this Saturday at Teatro Espressivo in Curridabat.
For folks who slept through English lit, “Hamlet” is the story of a Danish prince whose father has died, apparently of natural causes. Suddenly his father’s ghost appears and claims that the death was actually a murder, and that Hamlet should take revenge against his stepfather, who is also his uncle. Hamlet is wishy-washy for five acts, until he finally decides to take action – but is it too late?
The Globe’s English-language production is faithful to the script but tinkers with the scenery.
“In terms of the costumes, we’re combining Elizabethan shapes and silhouettes with more modern elements – looking a bit like the clothes of a touring company from the 1930s,” said Dominic Dromgoole, director of the company. “As for the set, we’ve developed various methods for small-scale, very no-frills touring around the UK and abroad. We’ve learned to be very flexible and playful, with a spirit of improvisation. For Hamlet, we aren’t even taking a truck to carry a booth stage. The luggage is the set – a tower of suitcases.”
In the realm of theater, the Globe is among the most famous troupes and venues on the planet, and the rarity of the opportunity to see these actors onstage cannot be overstated. And for folks who aren’t keen on Elizabethan poetry, just remember: there’s plenty of sword fighting to go around.
“Hamlet” plays Aug. 23 at Teatro Espressivo, Curridabat. 7:30 p.m. 20,000-30,000 ($40-60). Info: Teatro Espressivo website.