Bold, bawdy and brilliant! Emma Rice has made some bright decisions in her first production as Artistic Director at The Globe theatre. An almost entirely female mechanicals team and a male Helena now Helenus, have brought this play straight into the 21st century in electric fashion.
Two ‘globe stewards’ opened the proceedings, giving us a full health and safety briefing in extremely comic fashion. We were soon to find out that these two stewards were in fact Quince and Bottom. Suddenly the play whipped into gear with a lilting sitar melody drifting down from the upper part of the globe stage. A tacky-looking Theseus and Hippolyta breezed onto stage and we were then introduced to Egeus and his dilemma about his daughter Hermia. She, Lysander, Demetrius and Helenus, all appear within the groundlings and jump upon huge tables that are in the pit.
Everyone in this production was fantastic. Meow Meow as Hippolyta and Titania was hysterical whilst Edmund Derrington as Lysander was brilliant as a pre-pubescent teen moving in an adult’s body. Hermia, played by Anjana Vasan bought a real honesty to her character, whilst Ankur Bahl as Helenus was brilliant, slowly becoming more sassy as his character found his confidence.
There were many cultural references to the 21st century, with moments of popular music seeping into the play, such as Shaggy’s ‘Bombastic’, Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’ and Bowie’s ‘Starman’, whilst a few text changes had been made to bring this show up to date. “Hipster Hoxton attire” was the updated description Puck used to identify the correct lover. All these additions blended perfectly into the Shakespeare.
And so we come to Puck! An exquisitely engaging performance from Katy Owen, full of twitches and mannerisms not dissimilar to a howler monkey, she played the mischievous fairy brilliantly. She darted through the crowd playing with audience members and bringing them into this magical world – definitely a career-shaping performance from this talented young performer.
We loved the design with the huge globular spheres hanging above the stage and under the sky, whilst long draping green tubes swayed in the wind. As a result sight lines often changed as if we were in the woods watching the action unfold on the move. The onstage design was simple and effective, whilst the ass’ head was beautiful.
What a real treat this was at the Globe Theatre. If the Bard could come back from the dead, time travel to the present day, have a week to pick up a bit of the cultural context and listen to some of our music, and then come and see Emma Rice’s production then he would be extremely proud. This was a real joy to watch and experience. This will go down long in the Ginger Wig’s memory. Do not miss this production!
Highlight of the piece – the perfect synthesis of Shakespeare, comedy, music, design and entertainment, enjoyed by all ages at the Globe. (And Oberon’s entrance with a 2L bottle of Strongbow).