Monday, September 24, 2012


at Shakespeare's Globe
22.09.12 and 09.10.12

Can it be ten years since Mark Rylance held the Globe in thrall to his wonderful Olivia ?

No-one better understands how to play the space and work the unique crowd, and now he's back again, in the stunning black dress and Virgin Queen white face, in Tim Carroll's production with that 2002 dream team – including Claire van Kampen for the music and Jenny Tiramani for the authentic costumes.

The addition here, and the other reason for the swift sell-out of this brief end-of-season fling [before a lucrative transfer to the Apollo, together with Rylance's equally compelling Richard III] is the Malvolio of Mr Stephen Fry, making a return to the boards after 17 years away. A rich, grave steward, this. Upbraiding Sir Toby and his cakes and ale companions more in sorrow than in anger, deliciously slow on the uptake as he deciphers his Lady's letter, and cringingly forward in his wooing of the bemused object of his affections.

Many fondly remembered, lovingly polished performances are revived from that original cast – Peter Hamilton Dyer's gentle, enigmatic Feste, Paul Chahidi's pertly mischievous Maria, Liam Brennan's beautifully besotted, mellifluous Orsino. And of course Rylance's Olivia, still gliding as if on castors, still wringing every last drop of humour and emotional honesty from the Countess. The hesitations, the embarrassment, the girlish gaucheness all wonderfully tuned to the Wooden O's open-air intimacy.

This time round Globe favourite Colin Hurley is a boorish, boozy Sir Toby, with Roger Lloyd Pack a nicely pathetic Aguecheek, visibly melting and crumbling under life's vicissitudes. And an unexpected joy – the excellent James Garnon as the often neglected Fabian. The boys, too, are new of course, with Sam Barnett and Johnny Flynn as his twin "Cesario".

On opening night the capacity crowd cheered it to the roofless rafters; it's packed out every night of course. I noticed a formidable array of movie cameras the other night [including two dollies and a remote camera in the Lords' Room], so hopes run high of a DVD or maybe a cinema relay.

It runs at the Globe until October 14 [returns only], then at the Apollo until February 2013.

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