Winter Selection: preview

Image source: Shakespeare’s Globe

We may have just bid Emma Rice farewell on the Globe stage, but thankfully there’s still the final winter season to come: The Winter Selection!

And it’s quite an eclectic selection, ranging from Shakespeare to new writing, puppetry to musicals – like a chocolate box, there really is something for everyone. As with the theme and ideas behind her summer season, I think describing it as being “full of treats” is the perfect way to see her off, showing once again that her character is full of love and creativity.

Reading her description of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in her own introduction to the season is enough to get the juices flowing:

“The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is the most delicious, the most unique, and most beautiful box of delights there is. Magical and intimate, ancient and immediate, this is the ultimate place to be transported back to a state of wonder, to the primal need to tell and hear stories, and to a world of rare human interaction. And this season, transport you we will!”

The selection on offer reads as follows: Romantics Anonymous, The Secret Theatre, Apocalypse Meow, All’s Well That Ends Well, The Captive Queen, Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and The Little Matchgirl.

Image source: Shakespeare’s Globe

Romantics Anonymous – dir. Emma Rice (20 Oct 2017-6 Jan 2018)

As only Emma Rice would dare to attempt, her season opener is a brand new musical that she has adapted from the film Les Émotifs Anonymes, with the help of Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond (music and lyrics).

A love story about chocolatiers, it’s a really cosy start to the season for me as it sees the return of several Summer of Love faces: Carly Bawden (Maria in Twelfth Night) and Dominic Marsh (Tristan of Tristan & Yseult) take the starring roles, and they’re joined by Marc Antolin (Twelfth Night’s Sir Andrew Aguecheek) and Gareth Snook (Lord Capulet from Romeo & Juliet).

When this cast was announced I knew I had to be there from day one (despite that giving me a very short period of morning following the end of the summer season), so I’m very excited to be seeing the first preview tonight – I’m also set to review it for BroadwayWorld UK next week, so keep any eye out for that!

Image source: Shakespeare’s Globe

The Secret Theatre – dir. Matthew Dunster (16 Nov-16 Dec 2017)

When I was younger, my absolute favourite topic in history was the Tudors – I remember devouring any book I could on the topic, and having a particular interest in Elizabeth I’s reign – so when I saw this play on the schedule I was rather excited. It’s a new piece of writing from Anders Lustgarten that focuses on Elizabeth’s spymaster Francis Walsingham.

Again, some familiar faces have made it onto the cast and creatives list. Tara Fitzgerald comes back to star as Elizabeth I (following her turn as Lady Macbeth in the Wonder Season), Abraham Popoola makes a swift return after playing Badvoc in Boudica, and Charlotte Broom choreographs (her work on Much Ado this year was one of the production’s many wonderful aspects).

I am now confirmed for press night in just under a month’s time (again, for BroadwayWorld UK), so make sure you catch my verdict there.

Photo credit: Magnus Hastings

Apocalypse Meow – by Meow Meow (20-31 Dec 2017)

Meow Meow was all you could as for as Titania in last year’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (I remember vividly being shouted at for not undoing her shoes quickly enough!), so it’s very exciting that she’ll be back for a brief stint doing her ‘day job’ – this time at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

Invariably most of the focus of the festive season is placed on children and families, and theatre is no exception. Aside from variants of A Christmas Carol, what’s most widely on offer is the dreaded pantomime… I don’t know about you, but I absolutely despise them! I have more tolerance for amateur ones in which people I know are performing, and I’m sure they’re good fun to be a part of, but the whole package it simply loathsome to me. Especially when people attempt to do ‘grown-up’ pantos.

So the idea of Meow Meow’s show sounds perfect. A “chaotic whirlwind of a show” is probably what we’ll all need by then! Unhelpfully, I’m away from London for Christmas when the run begins, but I’m quite tempted to make it my last show of the year and a New Year’s Eve treat instead!

Image source: Shakespeare’s Globe

All’s Well That Ends Well – dir. Caroline Byrne (11 Jan-3 March 2018)

Whilst I am sympathetic to the choice of more well-known and oft-performed plays in Emma Rice’s two summer seasons (chances are she’d have planned them out well in advance, or had plays she really wanted to make sure were performed during her tenure), it’s nice to know that I’ll be able to tick one more Shakespeare off my list.

This is one that I also don’t know too much about. I’ve read Charles & Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare book, so must have come across the basic story of it that way, but I really can’t remember it. All you can infer from the title is that it’s probably a comedy – though things aren’t necessarily black and white.

Particularly as director Caroline Byrne (previously seen at the Globe with Taming of the Shrew last year) is promising a “dark, twisted and dangerous interpretation” of the play…

Image source: Shakespeare’s Globe

The Captive Queen – dir. Barrie Rutter (2 Feb-4 March 2018)

Thanks to Jessica Swale’s brilliant Nell Gwynn, I now know who John Dryden is – which is fortunate, as one of his plays has made it into the winter season. However, this production is actually a reimagining of the original play (Aureng-zebe) and co-produced by one of the Globe’s Associate Companies, Northern Broadsides. This company was founded by Barrie Rutter, who will both direct and act in The Captive Queen, playing the Emperor.

The story is of “passion, politics and patriarchy”, as the Emperor, his Governor and two warring sons all fall in love with the same woman: The Captive Queen. Originally set in India, this production will transpose the action to the end of the northern woollen mills (in the late 20th century), but we’re also promised that an echo of the Indian setting will be retained.

This should be another one for me to review for BroadwayWorld UK next year, so keep that in mind!

Image source: Shakespeare’s Globe

Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons – comp. Max Richter (9 March-21 April 2018)

By the time I got to the penultimate production of The Winter Selection, I was starting to wonder if Emma Rice had rummaged through my mind to search for some of my very favourite things and endeavour to bring them to the stage for me. Because The Four Seasons just so happens to be one of the first classical music suites I ever (consciously) heard, and also one of my absolute favourites. To top it all off, there are puppets involved!

What will feature is in fact a recomposition by Max Richter, specially arranged for performance at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. He is joined on the creative team by Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié of Gyre & Gimble (famous for War Horse, Running Wild, the forthcoming production of Pinocchio at the National, and many more) – their job being to use their various puppets to “tell fantastical, improbable – even impossible – stories”.

I am really quite excited for this one. It’s a shame in some ways that we’ll have to wait right up until the end of the season for it, though I’m confident it will help everything go out with a bang.

Image source: Shakespeare’s Globe

The Little Matchgirl – dir. Emma Rice (27 March-21 April 2018)

Last, but by no means least, is the revisiting of last year’s The Little Matchgirl (and Other Happier Tales). It is due to begin a UK tour at the Bristol Old Vic on 30 November, with the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse its final stop – and the very last show of Emma Rice’s tenure, fittingly enough.

Based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale of a destitute little girl, I vaguely recall being told this story as a child. There is a darker side to fairy stories if you look properly, though this one is more obviously sad than most. Fortunately, it is joined by other tales (The Princess and the Pea, The Emperor’s New Clothes and Thumbelina) that should combine to make it another joyful experience. There are Lyndie Wright-designed puppets involved (directed by Sarah Wright), so this will be a thing of joy at the very least!

Thanks to slightly precarious finances (and attempting to save up for my New York trip) I sadly didn’t get to see this show first time round, so I’m really glad I’ve been given another opportunity. And I’ll be wasting no time, as I’m popping over to Bristol in early December to get my first visit in! I am confident it’ll end up being another beloved show, and I hope to pop to some other venues to see it before it reaches its final destination.

Image source: Shakespeare’s Globe

What’s also quite fun is that the Globe has recently announced the launch of a chocolate selection box inspired by the shows on offer this season. Master chocolatier Paul A. Young has created the goodies, and boxes will be sold in the Globe shop. Slightly too much ginger in there for my taste, but do you really think that will stop me?

Time now to stall the grief and make the most of the very last months of Emma Rice’s time at Shakespeare’s Globe. To begin with, I thought there were only one or two productions that I’d like to see – but as you can tell, I seem to have changed my mind on that score! I had great fun with my Summer of Love series of blogs, so if you’re very lucky I might try and bring you some of The Winter Selection too…

Tickets for the Winter Selection are available online or from the box office, with £10 standing tickets on offer for every performance.

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