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The Globe Theatre

Wednesday 6th July 2016

The day was warm and sunny.  Collected from Stocklund Square at an early hour, we arrived at the South Bank early and were first introduced to the Globe by Jeremy, a first class guide, who should have been on stage, but confessed that he had never been an actor, but might have wanted a director’s role.

There followed a tour of the Museum for those who were interested, which explored the history of the reconstructed building started by Sam Wanamaker, who did not live to see its completion, and exhibiting artefacts of relevance and models of stage settings, costumes etc.

There followed plenty of spare time in which to walk, explore the surroundings or take lunch in a wide selection of restaurants nearby.  On our return to the Globe, we were treated to the matinee performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and what a performance!  This was not for the purists, as we experienced dancing, songs, a hint of Bollywood (I have never seen an electric sitar before) and a radical change in the casting of the lovers – Helena has become Helenus, and a gay relationship ensues.  However, nothing in the text had been changed, only Helena’s gender.

Whilst I found the whole performance magical, the star for me was Katy Owen, who played Puck with vitality and verve, who never ceased moving and was captivating.  Furthermore, she then adopted a minor role as a father in a wheelchair, transforming with ease from a bundle of mischievous fun and spirit, into a fragile, crippled character.

Whilst selecting one actress for particular praise, the entire cast was splendid, from the comedic Bottom with an excellent singing voice (Ewan Wardrop), to the wonderfully named Meow Meow taking the role of Titiana.

The scenes of dance would have graced any West End Musical, as would the singing chorus numbers.  One would not have anticipated such variations on Shakespeare’s original script, but somehow it all seemed to work wonderfully well.  What I find extraordinary, is that the Globe stage has little in the way of sets, yet it is quite clear when the action takes place in the three different worlds - the court, in the fairy kingdom and the mechanicals.  The fairies could still have been of the Elizabethan world, but the lovers could have been contemporary.  An interesting juxtaposition.

All in all a wonderful day, and I will not forget such a captivating performance.  I found the variations to the script entertaining and not out of place, as the spirit of the original was perfectly evident.  And therefore praise must be given to the Director, Emma Rice.

Text by Philip Akroyd

Photos by Jonathan Cross

Related Link (opens in new window):

Shakespeare's Globe

Enthusiastic theatregoers from Cranleigh DFAS gather on the Embankment