Tag Archives: Shakespeare’s Globe

REVIEW: Romeo and Juliet – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Dominic Dromgoole’s final touring production before finishing his tenure as Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe is a pared-back Elizabethan style booth staging of Shakespeare’s much-loved tragedy Romeo and Juliet. With multiple roles and minimal props the actors deliver a ‘strolling player’ take on the Bard’s blockbuster.

Atmosphere is such a critical element of Globe productions, the feelings evoked in the famous wooden ‘O’ when night falls and the stars twinkle above, is both hard to beat and to replicate. And so it proved in this beautiful, jewel box, mid-Victorian, proscenium arch theatre. The lights remained ‘up’ throughout and unlike its home at the Globe did not dim as evening progressed and while certainly prompting the audience to attention, it also served to highlight the early exits of some theatre-goers during the production.

There are though, many things to applaud here: the production begins with spirit, though it feels like many miles from Verona due to the Balkan-like jig, seeming to signal an energetic purpose the proceedings; scenes are trimmed and play out overlapping one another, ridding it of time-wasting scene changes and also, in the early stages, imbuing the storytelling with drive and the narrative throughout retains its clarity due to the well thought out direction. That said by the end this early drive had all but ran out of steam and been eschewed for quite possibly, the longest draw out death scene one can remember having had to sit through. It is never a good directorial choice to provoke a desire in the audience to leap onstage and fell the fatal blow to speed up proceedings.

The company, whilst hugely competent are somewhat low-key, only Tom Kanji’s Friar Laurence/Benvolio and Sarah Higgins’ Nurse remain writ large in the memory, the pair charismatic and confident presences onstage.The young lovers are played here by close to age-appropriate actors who manage to encapsulate not only the all-consuming fire of young love but its gaucheness and naivety. However the emotions portrayed by Cassie Layton as Juliet don’t seem to come from a place of any depth, it feels more surface than substance, all not helped by her difficulties with projection in this cavernous auditorium: much of her dialogue was consigned to the ether rather than the ears of the audience.

It is such a pity, there’s much that is good here, but an evening at Shakespeare’s Globe is such a magical experience, and one’s hope is that this competent but sometimes lifeless production doesn’t prevent the audience from exploring the riches of Shakespeare further.

Runs until Saturday 8 August 2015

This review was originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com

REVIEW: Twelfth Night, Shakespeare’s Globe, London with Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry

The combination of Tony and Olivier winning Rylance returning to the Globe for the first time since his tenure as artistic director, the revival of this previously universally lauded production and the return to the stage after 17 years of national treasure Stephen Fry, ensured that this run sold out as soon as it was released in January.

It has been ten years since this play first held the audience transfixed at the Globe, now Mark Rylance and many of the original team return to weave their magic. 

This was the last night of this year’s season at the Globe and as magical as the Globe always is  this was probably the most magical ever – as close to perfection as anything I’ve ever seen on stage.

Joining Rylance from the original cast to recreate their lovingly remembered performances are Paul Chahidi, a mischievous Maria, Peter Hamilton-Dyer as a golden-voiced Feste and the wonderful Liam Brennan as the besotted and beguiled Count Orsino. Rylance is the master (or in this case should I say mistress) of this space. No one I have ever seen appear here has managed to hold the audience in their thrall quite like him. For all his mastery of the dramatic role he truly shines in comedy. In black gown and ghost white face he glides hovercraft-like across the stage, executing three point turns every time he wishes to sit. With one tiny look or minuscule gesture he reduces the audience to tears.

New for the production, but no strangers to this stage, are Globe regular Colin Hurley as a deliciously debauched Sir Toby Belch, and from this year’s Richard III, Roger Lloyd Pack a  bumbling Andrew Aguecheek, Samuel Barnett and Johnny Flynn as twins Sebastian and Viola, and of course, Stephen Fry as Malvolio, who, in a nicely tuned performance, never lets the character fall into cheap farce.

This is theatrical perfection and the ultimate example of an ensemble cast. Luckily for those who didn’t get the chance to see this in its spiritual home they will have the chance to catch it from November at The Apollo on Shaftesbury Avenue where it runs in rep with Richard III.

Photo credit – John Tramper, Shakespeare’s Globe

REVIEW: Much Ado About Nothing starring Eve Best and Charles Edwards at Shakespeare’s Globe 15th July 2011

 More than 400 years on, Shakespeare’s play has lost none of its power to delight – and to astonish.

The show generated great waves of warm laughter from a packed house that hung on to every word. With the Globe stage covered with pools of blue water and its pillars transformed into fruit-laden orange trees, this production memorably blends the play’s humour with its moments of darkness.

The cast don’t disappoint either – Eve Best’s Beatrice (above) is fiercely intelligent, ironic and good-hearted, using her prodigious wit as a shield against hurt. She makes it plain that her heart has already been bruised by Benedick and that her insults and jibes are intended to keep him at a distance.

Charles Edwards (above right) gives a superb performance as a feeling, thinking man who keeps pain at bay by pretending to be a cheerful silly ass.

The scenes when both are duped into believing that they are loved by the other and finally acknowledge their true feelings are staged with great wit and imagination. Best even grabs the hand of one of the groundlings as she describes her sudden, unexpected happiness.

But, right to the end, both actors suggest the precariousness of their love in a world corrupted by sin and made even more complex by their own prodigious intelligence. Only when they kiss (to the delighted cheers of the audience) does the flow of words end in the joy of their mutual love.

Where it matters most, in the wit, wounded feelings and final happiness of Beatrice and Benedick, this production soars.” The Telegraph

This is one of the best theatre experiences I’ve ever had – elbows on the stage being totally swept away in the fantastic storytelling of Shakespeare and the phenomenal skill and talent of this truly wonderful cast. I can’t praise it highly enough. Just magical.

REVIEW: Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe starring Paul Hilton and Arthur Darvill, Shakespeare’s Globe 12th July 2011

“Doctor Faustus, restless for knowledge, forsakes scholarship for magic and makes a pact with the Devil: if the evil spirit Mephistopheles will serve him for 24 years, Faustus will yield his soul to the Devil after death. It isn’t long before Faustus has doubts about the bargain, but Mephistopheles has plenty of entertainment at hand to distract Faustus from the terrifying reality of his position and the prospect of its agonising conclusion.”

Doctor Faustus is considered to be the greatest tragedy in English before Shakespeare. Marlowe puts some of the greatest poetry ever written for the stage and a good deal of anarchic comedy at the service of a mythic tale illustrating mankind’s insatiable desire for knowledge and power.

Mephistopheles is played by Arthur Darvill, best known as Rory in Doctor Who.  Doctor Faustus by Paul Hilton, who was last seen at the Globe in 1998 as Orlando in As You Like It and whose other credits include: Rosmersholm (Almeida Theatre), The Daughter-in-Law (Young Vic) and Silk (BBC).

Paul Hilton is charismatic and suitably intense as the lonely, restless scholar who trades 24 years of earthly glory for an eternity of damnation.

This is a clear telling of the story and it’s a visually satisfying production with plenty of gore, pageantry and puppetry.

Arthur Darvill, however, is less convincing as the devil’s right hand man; although competent he lacks any real presence.

 On a lighter note this play for all its a telling of a literally diabolical tale has many comic notes most of them excellently supplied by Pearce Quigley as Robin. This is an excellent production and I would recommend it whole-heartedly.