2 October 2012

Twelfth Night at The Globe

I had always considered The Globe to be a tourist attraction rather than a serious theatre and that is why I had not been there before.

I only went this time because work organised some (relatively) cheap tickets and the cast included a couple of big names, i.e. Stephen Fry and Roger Lloyd Pack in the character roles Malvolio and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and Mark Rylance staring as Olivia.

The Globe soon shows you why they stopped making theatres like that. The climb up to the gods is steep and when you get there you are greeted by a narrow wooden bench.

The more famous place to watch plays is in the pit that is open to the elements and on the night that I went that meant wearing something seriously weather-proof. And warm.Even in what passes for indoors a winter coat was needed.

I respect the experiment of rebuilding a period theatre but, to be honest, I think that it was the wrong direction to take from a theatrical view-point. Personally I prefer the modern route that the RSC has taken at Stratford upon Avon. The tourists seem to love The Globe though.

This production of Twelfth Night has an all-male cast, as it would have had in Shakespeare's time. I had seen all-male Shakespeare before and loved it then so that was another attraction for me this time.

For most of the play the main character is a man playing a woman who is pretending to be a man. And, thinking that she is a man, another woman falls in love with her.

She also has a brother who looks just like her.

A lot of the comedy comes from the flirting that goes on between the mixed sexes.

More comedy comes from the supporting character roles.

Stephen Fry is getting most of the press because he is Stephen Fry. He plays Malvolio just as you would expect him to, with superciliousness and pathos. All this makes for a lot of fun when he is tricked but we do not really see the bad side of his character that led to him being tricked in the first place and which gave him his name.

Not that this really matters. This is a comedy with a paper-thin plot so the comedy element is far more important than any attempt at realism.

Roger Lloyd Pack is brilliantly hapless as Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

The direction plucks all the humour that it can out of the plot and the characters and there is always a lot going on with movements and expressions.

After a slow start that felt a little jilted at times there were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that even the rain and the cold could not suppress.

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