I’ve loved Shakespeare ever since I was about 13. Learning key speeches from Macbeth & reciting them at lightning pace, devising ‘Macbeth: The Musical’ (I kid you not) – and then actually studying Shakespeare properly, with Twelfth Night & Romeo and Juliet. So it’s inconceivable that it’s taken so long for me to see a play at the Globe!
This year is Emma Rice’s first as artistic director, and it promises to be a special one. She has a vision to make the Globe as widely accessible as possible, and with her ‘Wonder‘ season I have a feeling she’ll do just that. The plays on offer over the summer are:
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- The Taming of the Shrew
- 946 (The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips)
- Imogen (Cymbeline, renamed & reclaimed)
- The Merchant of Venice
Planned a few months ago, the weather turned out beautifully on Wednesday evening for the penultimate preview of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The play is one of my favourites anyway; it’s a classic story with a lot of humour. The clincher came with a brilliant announcement in February – our very own Sunny alumnus Ned Derrington was part of the cast! A month later and hopes/suspicions were confirmed that he was to be Lysander.
What better way to experience the Globe for the first time than by standing in the yard like the peasants of old? The only comparison I can make with this is going to gigs, where you often have to stand for five hours… So a three-hour play is a doddle!
As it was still in previews at the time, I’m not going to review it properly (yet), but what I can’t understate is how much I loved it. I adore a good old traditional production of a Shakespeare play, as you generally can’t go wrong – so when you know it’s a bit of a re-telling it’s both exciting & potentially worrying. You can’t have every Shakespeare production being done in exactly the same way, so occasionally you need innovators like Rice to take the wonderful stories somewhere new.
It’s vivid & full of music, but the most exciting twist is Helena becoming Helenus – the gender switch is clever and works to an absolute tee. I love the entire cast, who are brilliantly talented, and managed to give me another Shakespeare production that made me cry with laughter! I pretty much laughed the entire way through the second half, it’s a wonder (geddit) that I didn’t pass out from lack of oxygen…
It really was lovely to see Ned onstage performing again. Getting to play one of the four lovers gives him more of a chance to shine and show just how amazing he really is. I forgot how quickly his character arrives in the play, so it was beaming smiles all round at his first appearance – the more emotional moment was hearing him sing. In Sunny Afternoon he got to sing one solo line and the rest was just backing vocals, so getting to hear just how good he is (and stood a few feet away from him) was just lovely. And standing there came in handy for the end, where we could witness #Lysandertryingtodance (my favourite hashtag) from close quarters! He seems to be really enjoying himself in this new role, which is always great to hear.
So it seems that everything conspired together to make this the perfect first Globe show for me. As much as I obviously wish that I’d seen a number of their previous productions, I left the theatre with such a feeling of contentment & glee that I’m very happy things worked out this way. Now I know how good it is, I may lose count of the number of return visits I make – especially with the prospect of a midnight matinée late in the summer…