Monday, August 24, 2009


McGuinness/Euripides at Shakespeare's Globe


The clear counter-tenor of William Purefoy fills the Globe again – this time he is the Singer – chief of the chorus - in Euripides' Helen, ancient Greek drama in a new version by Frank McGuinness.

McGuinness's is a demotic voice, with cliché, phrase and saying studding this light-hearted tragedy.

Not so tragic, then, since this Helen has nothing to do with the Trojan War, as she is at pains to point out. A marvellous performance from Penny Downie, clearly spoken, deeply felt, with exemplary comic timing.

Her scruffy survivor Menelaus was played with energy and dignity by Paul McGann.

A mixed bunch of a supporting cast included Rawiri Panatene as the swaggering, gullible King of Egypt, and Penny Layden as a xenophobic gatekeeper with a heart of gold.

This year the Globe crew are sporting tee-shirts with a “scenery-free zone” message. But this show, like many of the others, has been fully designed: here there's a massive palace wall, with a spoil heap and a ladder round the pillar. All adding almost nothing to an already colourful production.
Can we have more work for our “imaginary forces” next year, please ?

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