Shakespeare Like it’s 1614
Epic, masterful, inspiring, hilarious.
The Pop Up Globe has been thoroughly entertaining us here in Melbourne since it ‘popped’ up in September of last year. The performance art venue is the first full-scale temporary working replica of the famous 2nd Globe Theatre in London where William Shakespeare’s plays have been performed for over 400 years.
The Pop Up Globe was brought to life in Auckland in 2016 and after it’s incredible success, it has made it’s way here to Melbourne, Australia. Maori traditions have been beautifully entwined within traditional Shakespeare, in particular in the shows performed by the Queen’s Company. This is live theatre at its best!
The Pop Up Globe has featured 4 of Shakespeare’s famous works- “Othello” and “Much Ado About Nothing” performed by the Queen’s Company, and “Henry V” and “As You Like It” performed by the King’s Company. There is also a show specially constructed here in Melbourne: “Around the Globe in 60 Minutes” about the 2nd Globe Theatre. Hearts wrench at the fates of characters in the psychological thriller “Othello”, join the King’s army in “Henry V”, follow Rosalind and Celia in disguise, putting love to the test in “As You Like It” and laugh at the sharp wit of Benedick and Beatrice in the Rom Com “Much Ado About Nothing”.
Special mentions go to Haakon Smestad as the manipulative “Iago” (Othello), who, though a villain, you can’t help but be mesmerised as he commands the space around him, the hilarious and energetic Kieran Mortell as “Dogberry” (Much Ado About Nothing) who will have you in fits of laughter, Chris Huntly-Turner who inspires and invigorates the crowd as “King Henry V” (Henry V) and Jonathan Tynan-Moss and Stanley Andrew Jackson III who do a mighty fine job playing leading ladies “Rosalind” and “Celia” (As You Like It). But mark this, there are no weak performers here, everyone is exceptional. It is a delight to be able to see the impressive range of these actors, who in one show can play a serious, dark character but a lighter-hearted joker and have us grinning and laughing in another. What really makes this theatre experience unique is that patrons can purchase “groundling” tickets and embrace the peasant life – standing and watching the 2.5 hour shows, just as the peasants would have done 400 years ago! But fret not, you hardly notice your feet aching, for you are so enthralled in the performances, with actors encouraging audience participation and playing on the crowd’s reactions.
You might be called out for laughing or covered in blood when one of the characters meets an unfortunate end. The costumes are spectacular with over 450 pieces used throughout the shows. Be assured you will love the live folk music and marvel at the precisely choreographed sword fights and impeccable timing and effects of the subsequent blood splatter. And whether the show concludes in death or a happy marriage, a charming folk dance is how the cast bow. It really does feel like you have gone back in time to 1614!
Whether it be rain and storms or 40+ degrees heat, these talented performers always put on an amazing and unforgettable show! Whether you be a long-standing Shakespeare fan or have never read any of his plays, the Pop Up Globe has been enjoyed by all. To make Shakespeare so accessible to people and to be able to share the love for Shakespeare with everyone is truly special. That the season has been extended three times is a testament to its great success. Having put on over 100 shows this season here, it is regretfully time for Melbourne to say goodbye to this phenomenal cast, crew and venue. Congratulations on an extraordinary season! We eagerly await the hopeful return of the Pop Up Globe, but until then: Fare thee well! The Pop Up Globe closes on February 3rd.
Review and images by our resident Shakespeare buff, Claire Duncan, pictured below with our editor, Crystal Corocher, at the Pop up Globe….add your selfies and fave moments from the shows in the comments! 🙂 *Note the drowned rats look because OF COURSE we had to be groundlings….Othello was made even more ambient on a rainy Melbourne night 🙂
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