Shakespeare in the park is not a new concept, but for a long time, it was not accessible to people who didn’t have time to stand in line on a Saturday morning.
Hip to Hip, a nonprofit theater company based in Queens, has taken the Bard’s stories to communities otherwise overlooked by Shakespeare troupes.
“Cymbeline,” a lesser-known fairy tale filled with stage fighting, romance, and kings and queens, was brought to St. Albans Memorial Park on July 26.
It’s a risky endeavor, taking the show to Southeast Queens as opposed to the culture hub that is Long Island City — there are a few later show dates in LIC though — but Hip to Hip took the chance, and the community responded.
Dozens of residents sat cross-legged on the grass and took in the story of Imogen, a princess who secretly marries Posthumous, despite her father’s wishes. With a war looming, she ventures into the wild to reunite with her true love and meets a few characters along the way.
Overall, the show was well executed. There were a few sound glitches and the players would step out of the spotlight from time to time, but with nothing more than a thin rope tracing out the stage, the cast did well.
The acting was solid, though a few of the male actors overacted their lines from time to time. Suprisingly, the standout was Lawryn Lacroix, who plays the small yet essential role of a page who relays messages between all of the major characters.
Her execution, both with her lines and in her body language, surpassed that of the rest of the company, despite her being one of the few nonEquity performers.
The audience picked up on Lacroix’s performance as well, with their eyes almost always on her when she took to the stage.
But more importantly, Hip to Hip does well by acknowledging Shakespeare isn’t only for the upper crust who take in theater regularly, but for everyone.
The show wasn’t dumbed down under the assumption that people would never understand Shakespeare’s verse. They took his language and delivered it wholeheartedly.
The audience, ranging in age, was in it from the minute the play began, something that outranks any minor slipups that occurred.