Just a little while ago Hamlet was in the park. And now Ophelia's in the pool — McCarren Park Pool, that is. Although the premise and the perspective have changed in 12 Ophelias, a feminine retelling of Hamlet, the uncertainty and dislocation of the original is all the same here. Starting this week in previews, 12 Ophelias provides an alternate ending for our favorite death aquatic. Spoiler alert: She's alive! [Well, obvs. There's not any water in McCarren Park Pool, Mariela. âEd.]
But this new play, written by Caridad Svich and directed by Teddy Bergman, promises to be more than some cultish back-from-the-dead Shakespeare riff. No you won't find any zombies here, but instead a drama that splices together Svich's own words with Shakespeare's to explore the question of if, and how, Ophelia can overcome her decidedly tragic past and what she can make of her future (if one even exists for her). It almost sounds as if in death, Ophelia not only came to understand Hamlet's conflict and indecision, but also took similar burdens upon herself. But, unfortunately the setting and society of 12 Ophelias only further shakes her stability. Gertrude runs a brothel. Hamlet and Horatio are slum bums. Appropriately staged in the drained out crater of McCarren Pool, the entire kingdom of Elsinore has been reduced to a disolate backwater shantytown. To enhance the sense of stagnation and render the stage in a complete state of humid tension and quagmire, Bergman makes a creative choice to have the Jones Street Boys provide live, original Bluegrass accompaniment.
If you feel you've had your fill of Shakespeare this summer, that's understandable. But 12 Ophelias is FREE. And no waiting in line for five hours. And it's running until August 22nd. You have plenty of time. So, nope. You have no excuse, after all.