The 2015 Shakespeare's
Globe season consists of five mainstream Shakespeare productions, a new version of
Aeschylus' Oresteia and two new plays.
Interspersed are several touring and foreign language productions.
The opening production was
“The Merchant of Venice” featuring
Jonathan Pryce in his Globe debut. A very good start to the season which I review below.
Next up is
“As You Like It”
directed by Blanche McIntyre whose “Comedy of Errors”
I nearly saw last year!
“King John” is a co-production
with Royal and Derngate, Northampton directed by James Dacre. In April 2015 the production appeared at
the historic Temple Church in the City of London for a few nights. I saw this candlelit performance and
it was worth seeing. The Globe's open air stage was a very different experience.
In late June Dominic Dromgoole directed
“Measure for Measure”. This is his last
year as artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe and I'll be sorry to see him go.
The final mainstream production is
“Richard II” starring Charles Edwards
whom I looked forward to seeing again.
season's productions are:-
first production in this year's season is The Merchant of Venice directed by Jonathan
Munby and features Jonathan Pryce as Shylock. I had feared that this actor might overdo
the role, but he was a human character earning both our dislike and our pity at different times,
but holding the stage at all times. The actress playing Jessica is his real life daughter Phoebe
and this is her first professional stage role. She was very good. When they first appeared on
stage together they were arguing in Yiddish. Apparently they improvised a short father/daughter
argument in rehearsal and had it translated into Yiddish. This wasn't the only added scene.
At the end of the trial scene Shakespeare has Shylock ordered to be baptised as a Christian.
The National Theatre production I saw in the seventies had Olivier's Shylock emit a blood curdling
offstage scream. In this production, Jessica was left on stage at the end and her father
dressed in a white shift was led on by priests to be baptised. Water was poured over his head
three times and the priest recited the Creed; Shylock in obvious distress responded “Credo”
at intervals, and throughout Jessica sat at the side of the stage keening in Yiddish. Shylock
was then led off through the yard and after a pause the applause from the shocked playgoers began.
This is one of the few productions at the Globe that didn't end in a jig.
Pickup, veteran actor Ronald's daughter, was an attractive, strong, funny Portia,
definitely superior in intellect to Bassanio and his fellow “Bullingdon Boys”
(Pryce's term in a BBC interview). Gratiano was suitably obnoxious but winning. Our first
encounter with the boys had Gratiano run to the front of the stage and vomit into a bowl
to suitably disgusted reactions from playgoers. As ever there were very awkward moments;
how does one react to the blatant anti-Semitism on show? It was also moving when Bassanio
chose his casket. The rest of the cast were generally strong, and Christopher Logan's
preening and mincing Prince of Aragon was particularly funny. Also Stefan Adegbola's
Gobbo dragged two groundlings on stage to voice his dilemma of Good versus Evil. Great stuff!
A strong start to the season.
I can't wait for the rest.