Sunday, March 18, 2012


Shakespeare's Globe tour at the Arts Theatre Cambridge

A huge touring company – fruitful collaboration between English Touring Theatre and Shakespeare's Globe – begins its travels at the Arts in Cambridge.
John Dove's première production of Howard Brenton's fascinating and intriguing piece survives very successfully the transfer to what must be one of the smallest stages of the tour. The Globe setting is evoked rather than replicated, with a single tree and a tiny musician's gallery.
One of the few scenes actually to benefit from the claustrophobic intimacy this allows was the moment when Anne is arrested, and is left alone amid an uncaring court.
Jo Herbert is a magnetic Anne, charming the audience, and her Henry, with her direct, flirtatious manner. Difficult to achieve the rapport with the house when darkness makes us invisible, but she succeeds, especially in her final farewell. Survivors from 2010 included Colin Hurley's woolly Wolsey, Michael Bertenshaw's solid Cecil, and James Garnon's amazing King James. And another chance to shudder at Julius d'Silva's Cromwell, career politician and ruthless schemer. A new Villiers in Michael Camp: an impressively honest performance, though the comic timing needs a few more previews to perfect.
It was good to chat with the players beforehand [another relic of the Globe original] – we learned that Lady Celia graduated from Fitzwilliam in 1997, and that "Steamy", though daunted by the old hands who arrived word perfect at the first rehearsal, was made welcome by a friendly company, and is hoping to see the show garner some five star reviews when it plays to the national critics in Brighton …

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