Monday, October 31, 2016


Shakespeare's Globe at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Masques make themselves very much at home in the Playhouse.
Milton's Comus gets the full dramatic treatment in Lucy Bailey's brilliant production, the first show of Emma Rice's first indoor season at Shakespeare's Globe.
As with All The Angels – getting a return run after Christmas – there is a behind-the-scenes frame, in this case a gently subversive, richly comical look at how the masque came to be staged, all closely based on the historical facts, it appears. The commissions, the family scandal, the children and the servants pressed into performance. And Mr Laws, deferentially directing, and taking the Prologue and the Attendant Spirit.
Patrick Barlow's brilliant script – fear not, Milton survives almost unscathed – and Lucy Bailey's imaginative direction make for a fascinating 100 minutes.
There's a fine cast, including Globe regulars Philip Cumbus as Laws, and Danny Lee Wynter as the satyrish Comus himself, somewhere between Prospero and Caliban. The youngsters are Rob Callendar and Theo Cowan as the brothers, and Emma Curtis as daughter Alice who plays the Lady, and takes Comus' tabor at the end, refusing to accept the subservient conclusion Milton might suggest - a “different lesson” indeed.
Lots of magnificent Playhouse effects – the Spirit flies in, the Monstrous Rout – dissolute dryads, hideous-headed monsters of the woods - are all but washed away by the stream that runs from beneath the stage and flows through the pit and out into the foyer. It's also the home of Natasha Magigi's splendid Sabrina.
Warped and wonderful” is how it's being sold. And so it is, a very promising start to the winter of Wonder Noir.

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