Monday, October 03, 2016


Shakespeare's Globe at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

This is the Globe touring production that's been delighting audiences all summer. Now it's back home, stuck slightly awkwardly in the candlelit playhouse. It's too big, bright and bold for this intimate space; it's a pity there was no slot for it in the great Globe itself.
Nonetheless, its charm, its passion and its sense of fun survive.
Set in 1966, it begins with a beige group of youngsters bopping to the hits of the day, merging seamlessly into the daft plot. The onstage band – this is a company of actor/musicians – are in a garish booth at the back of the stage. Its roof, accessed by vertical ladders, is a further acting area. Both Kate Sykes, the designer, and James Fortune, the composer, have embraced the flavour: a telling contrast between Verona, that beige backwater, and Milano, where it's at, fashion capital then as now.
Performances are excellent, the timing honed over a long tour. Guy Hughes and Dharmesh Patel are the gents in question; both give hilariously silly interpretations. The girls [Aruhan Galieva and Leah Brotherhead] have a bit more depth, especially at the tearful end with its touching lament.
Amongst the rest, doubling furiously and reaching for their instruments to form the backing band, Amber James gives us a lovely Thurio and a cheeky Lucetta. Charlotte Mills takes Launce by the throat, with musician Fred Thomas as the dog Crab. And, taking over from Adam Keast, injured in a stage fall [those ladders], T J Holmes works the audience wonderfully as the other fool, Speed.
As the Swinging Sixties declined into the safer Seventies, there was a Broadway musical based on this same comedy. Very much of its time, I recall, and not nearly so faithful, or as much fun, as this stylish summer show.

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