20/02/2016 - 16/04/2016
“If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.”
The Pop-up Globe Theatre Company presents Shakespeare’s finest comedy, Twelfth Night, at Pop-up Globe Auckland.
A young girl and her identical twin brother are shipwrecked on a strange shore. Separated, and believing the other dead, they are transformed by their adventures in a land where intoxicating love is in the very air. Set in 1616, the year of Shakespeare’s death, and performed by an authentic all-male cast in bespoke Jacobean costume, Twelfth Night is a masterclass in laugh-out-loud comedy.
Performed by a cast of professional actors brought together into a new, specially-formed ensemble repertory company and working with world experts to bring you the authentic shock of the old: the effect of Shakespeare’s plays performed in the space for which they were written.
Pop-up Globe Auckland is a full-scale working temporary replica of the second Globe Theatre originally built by Shakespeare and his company in 1614, the result of groundbreaking international academic research. With a steel frame ‘skinned’ in plywood the Pop-up Globe fuses cutting-edge scaffold technology with 400-year-old designs and superb contemporary performances to create an immersive 360 degree experience unlike any other.
Pop-up Globe Theatre, Bard’s Yard, 38 Greys Avenue, Auckland CBD
Sat 20 Feb – Sat 16 Apri 2016
Go to: http://www.popupglobe.co.nz/2016/twelfth-night/auckland#none
THE POP-UP GLOBE THEATRE COMPANY
Aaron Richardson (Viola/Cesario)
Adrian Hooke (Feste/Sea Captain)
Alexander James Holloway (Curio)
Carl Drake (Orsino, Duke of Illyria)
Daniel Watterson (Countess Olivia)
Edward Newborn (Sir Toby Belch)
Jatinder Singh (Antonio,)
Jonathan Tynan-Moss (Sebastian)
Oscar West (Musician)
Paul Willis (Sir Andrew Aguecheek)
Phodiso Dintwe (Valentine/Officer)
Stanley Andrew Jackson III (Malvolio)
Stephen Butterworth (Maria)
Edward Bijl (Sir Topas)
Director: Miles Gregory
Associate Director: David Lawrence
Assistant Director: Edward Bijl
Voice Consultant: Sylvia Rands
Costume Designer: Bob Capocci
Composer: Paul McLaney
Fight Director: Alexander James Holloway
Drowning in Illyria
Review by Nathan Joe 04th Mar 2016
It seems appropriate that a play which revolves around two shipwrecked siblings is victim to Auckland’s inconstant elements. While a rain-soaked atmosphere won’t be part of everyone’s Twelfth Night experience, the unpredictability of the weather is an integral part of attending the Pop-up Globe, especially for the exposed groundlings. The actors, despite having to compete with the sound of steady rain, have a lot of fun with the bonus backdrop, ad-libbing and even finding new meanings in their lines. Eventually the weather subsides and the show goes on as per usual, but the mood created by the rain continues to linger evocatively over the setting of Illyria.
The best thing that can be said about director Miles Gregory’s all-male Twelfth Night is that it’s funny. It seems like an obvious comment to make about one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, but too often I’ve found myself laughing at the wit and humour of Shakespeare rather than the productions themselves. While Gregory’s production doesn’t do anything surprising with the text, it does push the comedy to its natural limits, from suggestive to downright explicit. In many ways the show is a celebration of vulgarity and misbehaviour. And it’s there that it excels. [More]
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A truly ensemble production with some outstanding performances
Review by Lexie Matheson 22nd Feb 2016
A few weeks ago my spouse suggested I look out her 15th floor office window at a new structure that was growing in the Auckland City Council carpark behind Q theatre and in front of The Basement. I had no idea what it was until she informed me, rather smugly because I am supposed to know these things, that it was a full size, to scale, replica of Shakespeare’s Second Globe Theatre, originally built on the South Bank of the River Thames in London. This ‘second’ Globe replaced Shakespeare’s original Globe theatre which was built in a similar location close by in 1599 and burned down fourteen years later, ironically during a performance of Henry VIII, when a fateful canon shot set fire to the to the theatre’s thatched roof and that, as they say, was that.
The Second Globe Theatre was somewhat more robust and survived until 1642, largely due to ecstatic Elizabethan the Jacobean audiences who were privileged to see, under its thatch and for the very first time ever, the sublime works of Marlowe, Fletcher, Beaumont, Johnson and, of course, Shakespeare himself. The Puritans disapproved, as Puritans invariably do, and Oliver Cromwell’s fun police closed all the theatres during the English Civil War and the dear old Second Globe was finally demolished in 1644. After all, we can’t have people having too much fun and too many small beers when serious people are trying to run the country; to blazes with the fact that many in Shakespeare’s audience would have got much of their classical education and a swathe of their British history from seeing his plays.
Sam Wanamaker, the great American actor/director, visited London in 1949 and instigated a project that twenty three years later saw the Shakespeare Globe Trust established with the goal of reconstructing the original with the sage addition of an Education Centre and exhibition space. Twenty three further years were spent fundraising and in 1996 the project came to fruition. Sadly, Wanamaker never saw his dream come to fruition as he had passed away three years earlier.
The new structure was recreated as faithfully as was possible and housed nearby to where the original stood and millions of playgoers and tourists have visited and seen modern productions of works by the great Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights as they might well have been seen by audiences four hundred plus years ago.
Cranking ourselves forward four hundred years since the death of Shakespeare himself and we are suddenly, and I must say unexpectedly, privileged to have the brilliant Pop-up Globe concept come to life here in the antipodes, in Tamaki Makaurau Auckland, emerging like a mushroom from the newly-named ‘Bard’s Yard’. I’m assured that it’s accurate to within millimetres of Wanamaker’s Globe and it certainly looks that way. Big ups to the planners and especially to our own Camelspace whose genius with scaffolding and all that manly stuff has brought this dream to fruition.
Pop-up Globe’s directors Miles Gregory and Tobius Grant seem to have touched a nerve with Aucklanders and this is evident from the fact that, prior to the opening night of the first of eight separate seasons, over fifty thousand tickets had been sold. That’s right, there are eight different productions planned for the next three months – Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Much Adoe About Nothing, Henry V, Titus, Hamlet and Anthony and Cleopatra – and you can see them all as a groundling for a mere fifteen bucks per show. That’s $120.00 all up. How cool is that? (Ugly Shakespeare is also doing 10am shows of their Othello this week @ $5 a ticket.) [See http://www.popupglobe.co.nz/ ]
The Pop-up Globe has its own performance company and has staged two of the great classics with essentially the same cast, a tragedy (Romeo and Juliet) and a comedy (Twelfth Night, or What You Will). Romeo and Juliet opened on Friday 13 February, 2016 and Twelfth Night was performed at the Gala Opening a day earlier on the 12th.
This review of Twelfth Night is from the performance of Saturday 20 February, 2016, the same evening as The Pride Parade and the Lantern Festival, and it says so very much for the manner in which this concept has charmed the pants off Auckland city that, even with this level of populist completion taking so many people to other areas of the city on what is a divine summer evening, the house is still virtually full.
Walking through the doors is actually a heart stopping experience for any audience member but for those who have had the exquisite experience of attending a production in London it’s deja vu. You can buy a beer, a wine and even an ice cream from the plentifully stocked temporary container bar and audiences members very quickly catch on to the fact that you can get service even during the show.
Twelfth Night, or What You Will is the perfect choice to pair with Romeo and Juliet. It’s one of Shakespeare’s most regularly produced works and the bittersweet comedy and knock-about fun are perennial favourites. Director Miles Gregory has opted for a traditional look and sound for the production – Elizabethan costumes with perhaps a nod in the direction of the Venetian – and all the roles, women included, are played by men which gives the work a delightful sense of authenticity, given also the nature of the venue.
In the original, Fabian wryly informs the audience that “if this was played upon the stage now I could condemn it as an improbably fiction” and he’s right, except Feste the Fool gets to say this line in this production which is all very, very good. It is evident from the get-go that there is some very clever cutting and shifting around of the text which contributes to ensuring that the production maintains a cracking pace; that the text is both contemporary and vivid, and the narrative clear.
On a personal note I would place this production second only to Trevor Nunn’s fabulous 1996 television adaptation which just happened to have Nigel Hawthorne, Imogen Stubbs, Helena Bonham Carter and the fantastical Ben Kingsley in the cast. The only thing separating the two, again in my view, is the emphasis Nunn manages to place on the bittersweet nature of the play whereas Gregory has opted to feature the knockabout comedy and the contemporary nature of Shakespeare’s narrative. That’s not to suggest for one moment that the current ending doesn’t work – it does, splendidly – just that, in Nunn’s work, there was a greater sense of guilt in Maria and the duet of Sirs than there is in this production. Oh, and the fact that one is television and the other live.
Gregory’s ending has a pertinent modernity, however, in that the lack of guilt and the joy in inflicting pain far beyond what might be deemed reasonable can be seen every day from our leaders, no matter where in the world you might abide.
Viola and Sebastian are twins who, on a sea journey on Twelfth Night are shipwrecked and separated. Viola ends up on the shores of Illyria and believes her brother to be dead. In order to survive she impersonates her brother, takes on the name Cesario and expediently attaches herself to the court of Duke Orsino as a page.
Orsino is hopelessly in love with the Countess Olivia who is in mourning for the recent death of her brother. Olivia is avoiding Orsino’s overtures of love which provides an opportunity for Cesario to become the go-between. Predictably – it’s Shakespeare after all – Olivia falls in love with Cesario who isn’t really a boy at all. Much comedy is gained from this.
Members of Olivia’s household hatch a plot against the haughty Malvolio, her officious steward, which involves a letter, written by Maria in Olivia’s hand, that suggests Malvolio’s mistress is in love with him and that, to woo her, he should dress cross gartered in yellow stockings – “a colour she abhors” – and smile a lot. Olivia thinks he’s crazy and has him committed. Much laugher and good sport is gained from this, all at poor Malvolio’s expense. Not happy with the situation, Feste, Sir Toby, Maria and Sir Andrew take the opportunity to humiliate him further.
There is much mirth around a faux duel between Sir Andrew and Cesario and, all in all, a great time is had by all.
Sebastian, however, has survived and also arrives in Illyria, accompanied by Antonio who saved him from drowning. Antonio isn’t a favourite in Orsino’s court and, when he comes across Cesario and mistakes him for Sebastian, Shakespeare’s oft-used mistaken identity plot kicks in. Sebastian meets Olivia, who mistakes him for Cesario and marriage is agreed to. Orsino hears of this and, deeply annoyed, he fires his page.
All ends happily when Sebastian and Cesario come face-to-face and Cesario reveals her true identity of Viola. Orsino then proposes to Viola while the humiliated Sir Andrew and Malvolio leave Olivia’s estate with Malvolio’s parting words, “I’ll be revengedon the whole pack of you,” echoing in everyone’s ears.
Three musicians greet us but sadly they are difficult to hear which is unfortunate because the spoken word is fully audible – and intelligible – throughout. Music plays a vital role in the production and most of this is carried by a guitar-wielding, full-voiced Feste (Adrian Hook), who makes the most of every opportunity.
The stage is decked with three rectangular, topiaried faux shrubs that are utilised throughout as though they are themselves characters. Central to the opening action is a portrait of the beautiful Countess Olivia (the gorgeous Daniel Watterson) on an easel. We know from this that we are in the court of the melancholic and love-sick Duke Orsino (Carl Drake). Similarly, an easel-borne portrait of her late brother informs us of when we are in the Countess Olivia’s house. The use of portraits attached to easels of varying sizes is an amusing and effective way for the audience to follow the locale of the action.
As the performance begins to unfold I note that access to the seating is generally very good and that the groundlings probably have the most excellent view. Providing cushions for the bench seating is a thoughtful touch though many audience members have brought their own.*
The first actor to appear on the stage is Alexander James Holloway who is listed to play Curio but begins with Duke Orsino’s immortal lines, “If music be the food of love play on.” I am confused at this point because it seems unconscionable that this character should deliver such crucial lines. All becomes clear when Holloway’s mobile phone rings and, embarrassed, he answers it. I am, of course, appalled that he would interrupt his opening speech to answer his phone but, slow coach that I am, I finally get the message that this is his witty way of telling his audience to turn their cell phones off.
This is a truly ensemble production but within it there are some outstanding performances. Adrian Hook, as Feste the Fool, guides us none too subtly through the narrative, treading a suitably dangerous path between the nobles and their ratbag relatives. His musicianship brings an extra dimension to the storytelling and is particularly effective at the conclusion of the play when his delivery of ‘Hey, ho, the wind and the rain’ pulls everything that has gone before together.
Carl Drake as Duke Orsino is a suitable melancholic foil for the grieving Olivia and we are immensely happy – and relieved – when, at the resolution of the narrative, he gets to marry Viola, played beautifully by Aaron Richardson.
The more serious themes of the text are carried by Antonio and the Sea Captain, both played efficiently by Jatinder Singh, and Sebastian (Jonathan Tynan-Moss), an eerily effective look alike for Viola. Each has fine moments and Singh in particular ensures that the underlying narrative is never swamped entirely by the slapstick tomfoolery.
Each of Duke Orsino’s manservants is quite splendid. Each has developed a unique personality but when they work in tandem – and with the Duke himself – the comedy is rich and layered. Curio (Alexander James Holloway) leads the duo and Valentine (Phodiso Dintwe) opts to be the follower. With the collusion of Orsino they have developed some exceptionally funny business with the stage furniture. Holloway is a most watchable actor, always busy, and always to the purpose of the play.
At the heart of the play is Shakespeare’s classic comedy ruse of having twins, separating them, and having the different identities, unbeknown to each other or any other character, create mayhem until this clever plot devise is finally resolved when the two finally come together in the most amusing way imaginable to round out the love stories of the principal characters. Gregory capitalises on this opportunity to maximum effect and the audience erupts when the twins finally appear together. Not only the audience either, the actors do too and it’s a very, very special moment – as indeed it should always be.
Central to the workings of the plot are Sir Toby Belch (a tangy Edward Newborn), his rather stupid friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek (a sinewy Paul A Willis) and Olivia’s manipulative maidservant Maria (a transcendent Stephen Butterworth) while the butt of their somewhat nasty trickery is Olivia’s steward, the vainglorious Malvolio (a suitably self-involved Stanley Andrew Jackson III) who gets a comeuppance far more substantial than he could ever have bargained for.
Crucial to the comedy are Newborn in magnificent voice, the subtly nuanced performance of Willis and, the undoubted star of the evening, the wickedly funny and profoundly authentic Stephen Butterworth as Maria. Each links with the others to create a prodigiously funny trio. Add Hook’s Feste and this becomes a comic team to die for.
While Malvolio does leave swearing to take his revenge on all of them, there isn’t any real sense that his departure will actually tear the house apart, in fact quite the opposite. It will be business as usual – apart, that is, for the new marriages that might keep their participants involved with other activities at least for a moment or six. It’s all about happy endings and we, Gregory’s audience, are satisfied by this as we exit the theatre from what has been a thoroughly enjoyable, and unquestionably exceptional, evening.
Is there a resonance of Malvolio’s mistreatment or a hint of distress at the way Aguecheek has been humiliated as we wander off into the night? I hope so, because I’m committed to the view that this is what Shakespeare would have wanted us to feel, even embryonically, humanitarian that he undoubtedly was.
If I had to choose a single take-away element from this excellent production, one that has stayed with me most for the twenty four hours since I saw the play, it would have to be the playing of the female roles by the men: the supremely talented Stephen Butterworth (Maria), the deliciously roguish Daniel Watterson (Olivia) and the subtle and sexy Aaron Richardson (Viola). The level of authenticity is exceptional because the actors are not ‘dragging’ it up at all; there is no more a sense of gender parody than there is a sense of knowing they are actors playing roles. These men have observed acutely and play accordingly, and they honour the women in our profession and in their audience by so doing. Totally top stuff.
I love the whole evening. I especially like the intimate interface between stage and audience and I can’t wait to see, later this week, what this feels like from the other side of the non-existent footlights. There is no amplification but, hard of hearing though I am, I hear every word which is to the credit of every actor, director Gregory, voice consultant Sylvia Rands and the fabulous design of the building.
You should travel from far and wide to experience of the Pop-up Globe. The concept is one of sheer genius and you should engage with this once in a lifetime opportunity whether you are a Shakespeare nut or not. Somewhere in the eight productions there will be one that is right for you. If that happens to be Twelfth Night, you won’t in any way be disappointed.
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*(One such gentleman wears a large backpack filled with them and wields it like a travelling punching bag. When entering the row behind me he almost decapitates me with his bag and when I turn to see what’s happened, his long suffering wife apologises and says ‘that’s why I’ve been trying to divorce him for 30 years.’ Not all the comedy at the Pop-up Globe will, I suspect, happen on the stage.)
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Night to remember at Globe
Review by Paul Simei-Barton 22nd Feb 2016
‘For the rain it raineth every day,” Feste sings in the celebratory finale of Twelfth Night, and right on cue a subtropical downpour cascaded through the open roof of the building which recreates the dimensions of a structure that once housed Shakespeare’s players.
For the intrepid souls standing in for the “groundlings”, the deluge only enhanced the jubilation of an experience that shows what it might have been like for the crowd who filled the Globe over 400 years ago. [More]
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