The Pop-Up Globe Theatre has arrived on the lawns outside the Myer Music Bowl. It’s a full sized replica of the second Globe Theatre, which opened in 1614 after the first Globe burnt to the ground.
It has three covered tiers, with the open area in front of the stage for the groundlings exposed to the weather and whatever (fake) bodily or other fluids the actors might spit, spew or fling at those who have opted to stand for over two hours for a very much reduced price. The theatre is only small and it’s all delivered live and with no microphones on the actors. They use the whole theatre: scaling up the three-tiered set, running amongst the groundlings, and clambering over boxes.
We saw ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. It was absolutely fantastic. I always feel a prickle of anxiety that the dialogue is moving too quickly and that I’m not ‘getting it’ when watching Shakespeare plays that I’m not familiar with. But always, by the end of the play it all makes sense. And what really made sense here were the parts of the plays that tend to drag when reading them on paper, where the actors are interacting with those sodden groundlings, making up time in soliloquies or slapstick, so that other characters can locate themselves on different levels of the set.
This particular reading of the play had a strong Maori/Islander influence. The singing was excellent. There’s lots of audience interaction and it’s a damned fine performance.
Don’t hesitate- go and see it! In fact, they have a 2-for-1 offer in November. If you’re young and with stamina, being a groundling would be fun. If you’re old and creaky, shell out for a seat. It’s right up there with a performance of Richard II in Stratford-on-Avon ten years ago as one of the best Shakespeare experiences I’ve had.