Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
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Pop up Globe: A palpable hit

Twelfth Night can be a life changing and amazing event.

John Daly-Peoples
Fri, 26 Feb 2016

Twelfth Night or What You Will by William Shakespeare
Pop up Globe Theatre
Greys Ave, Auckland
February 18, then various dates until April 16

The new Globe Theatre in Auckland is a remarkable structure recreating Shakespeare’s second theatre in London but it also has a contemporary feel given its scaffolding construction and space frame style roof. It’s somehow symbolic of the way in which the playwright’s works spans the centuries.

Seeing productions of Shakespeare in London’s Globe Theatre or Auckland’s pop up Globe can be a life-changing and amazing event. It changes the way one sees and appreciates not just Shakespeare but also the nature of stage productions themselves and how they have evolved over the centuries

This new Globe goes some way to recreating what it would have been like to see a performance at the original theatre although some of those features have been lost to theatre audiences such as the propensity of the audience to talk throughout the performance, which might have been more like going to an outdoor concert.

Many of the audience on opening night, like Jacobean theatregoers,  ate and drank their way through the performance, which was made easier by having an onsite bar.

As with the original performances, some of the play was performed in natural light, making use of the open roof, and there were no sets and only a few props. With the theatre  open to the elements and the outside world, the performance is marred to some extent by the background noise of vehicles, notably fire engines and police cars as well as helicopters. For the groundlings there was the added issue of the occasional bouts of rain.

For this Twelfth Night performance, the cast was restricted to a male-only performers as it would have been in Shakespeare’s time, with men taking the roles of all the female characters.

The play follows the lives of twin siblings separated in a ship-wreck with the female (Viola) becoming a cross-dressing male (Cesario), only to discover that she is in  love with a man (Orsino), who is in love with a woman (Olivia), who is in love with the disguised Viola.

This triangular romantic comedy is a mixture of pantomime and farce and often it seems as though it is a vehicle for a series of short comic routines rather than an evolving narrative but Shakespeare manages to hold it all together with some clever plot lines. The play also has some serious themes about the nature of love, the ways in which people deceive themselves and other as well as some musings on the notions of theatre and acting.

Some of the more memorable characters are the comic roles with the great comic duo of Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek providing endless laughs as they drunkenly go from debacle to fiasco, blithely unaware of their ineptness.

Edward Newborn as Sir Toby gives a larger-than-life performance, with a strong broad voice and clear diction that meant that his clever jokes and puns were easy to hear and appreciate.

Paul A Willis as Sir Andrew was more of a buffoon but held the overacting in check, providing a performance that delighted the audience.

Stephen Butterworth gave one of the most impressive performances as the maid Maria. He gave the character a real presence with a nice mixture of the panto dame and wily plotter while Daniel Watterson's performance as Olivia developed slowly but achieved a passionate display that was at time electrifying.

Aaron Richardson playing the part of Viola/Cesario gave an earnest performance along with Carl Drake as Orsini and Jonathan Tynan-Moss as Sebastian

Olivia’s, ambitious and prudish attendant, Malvolio, who is the butt of many jokes is cleverly played by Stanley Andrew Jackson III as he transforms the character from priggish snob  to self-deluded fop playing the character with a mix of standard English stand-up comic and Eddie Murphy.

The major problem with the production, as it is with contemporary performances of Shakespeare, is the language, with some actors having difficulty in articulating the words. Added to this is the use of obscure words or words which have different meanings, so for audiences many of the words and hence the jokes become baffling. Added to this, because the play is in the round,  actors often have their backs to part of the audience, making clarity a problem.

So the best thing to do is go online and find the text of the play or, at least, a good  synopsis in advance so you are ready for the life-changing experience.

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John Daly-Peoples
Fri, 26 Feb 2016
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Pop up Globe: A palpable hit