Shakespeare's Globe on Tour
Back in the Globe before their transatlantic tour, an eight-strong company bring their warm, bold Lear to a packed, receptive audience.
It begins with a casual but cordial walk-about, as the actor/musicians exchange banter and pleasantries with the groundlings in the pit. And then we're in to the tragedy, very clearly delineated, the verse sharply and sensitively spoken.
This a pared-down, booth-stage production, the costumes and props suggesting a mid 20th century setting. But most of the text survives, in a generous running time [for a largely open-air tour] of 3 hours including the 15 minute interval.
Joseph Marcell is a lovable old Lear; his mad king is often full of vigour; he rages splendidly against the storm. And, at the end, with his dear Cordelia [Bethan Cullinane, who also plays a Fool full of character] lying dead beside him, he looks hopefully at her lips, then follows her fleeing soul up into the sky above the Globe. A tremendous moment.
Strong support from the hard-working cast – some amusing doubling – including Bill Nash as the loyal Kent, and Gwendolen Chatfield and Shanaya Rafaat as the heartless Goneril and Regan.
Alex Silverman's music – rough and ready, like the costumes and the simple setting and furniture – uses a folk idiom, squeezebox and brass, to excellent effect.
Uncluttered and straightforward, this production keeps the complexities for the heart and soul of the tragedy, in a strong, emotional reading of the text.