Shakespeare's globe

Lacks any air of mystery, foreboding or darkness: Macbeth, at the Globe, reviewed

Macbeth at the Globe wants to put us at our ease and make us feel comfortable with the play’s arcane world of ghouls, hallucinations and murderous prophecies. Abigail Graham’s up-to-the-minute production offers a few nods to history, like the eagle masks worn by the three witches, but for some reason they speak in dense cockney accents and wear biohazard suits. And they’re all men. The Scottish soldiery favour black body armour like SAS recruits or Metropolitan Police officers. And King Duncan, benefitting from equality legislation, has been transformed into an alpha female: ‘Queen Duncan’, as everyone calls her. She strides on to the battlefield in the opening scene sporting a

Hamlet fans will love this: Re-Member Me, at Hampstead Theatre, reviewed

A puzzle at Hampstead Theatre. Literally, a brain teaser. Its new production, Re-member Me, is a one-man show written and performed by Dickie Beau, whose name is a punning allusion to a bow tie. The oddly spelled word, ‘re-member’ refers to the process of reassembling the separated limbs of a dramatic character during the rehearsal process. The poster for the production centres on Mr Beau dressed in 1980s sports gear and wearing a T-shirt blazoned with the logo of ‘Wittenberg University’, written in German. Enfolding his skull is a rainbow headband. These details tell us that the play examines the character of Hamlet with a particular focus on the travails

The show works a treat: Globe’s The Tempest reviewed

Southwark Playhouse has a reputation for small musicals with big ambitions. Tasting Notes is set in a wine bar run by a reckless entrepreneur, LJ, whose business bears her name. In real life, LJ’s bar would go bust within weeks. It serves vintage wines to a clientele of wealthy tipplers who chug back large tureens of Malbec and claret but who eat no food. The staff help themselves to free champers and Burgundy whenever they choose, and the boss fusses around like a mother hen making sure her brood are safe and content. Bad punctuality is never punished and the staff improvise each shift as they go along. But the

Newcomers will need to read the play in advance: Julius Caesar, at the Globe, reviewed

Some things are done well in the Globe’s new Julius Caesar. The assassination is a thrilling spectacle. Ketchup pouches concealed inside Caesar’s costume explode bloodily with each dagger blow and the conspirators are doused in dripping scarlet gore. During the assault, Caesar fights back and very nearly survives. Highly realistic. Afterwards, his statue is toppled and rolled off the stage in a subtle echo of Colston’s ducking in Bristol docks. The crowd relished every minute of this pacy, high-energy show even though the visuals are wildly confusing. Brutus (Anna Crichlow) is a lesbian who sports a beige pashmina, a white T-shirt and a fetching gold turban. She looks like the

Captures the rapturous gaiety of the original: Globe’s Twelfth Night reviewed

The new Lily Allen vehicle opens in a spruced-up terrace in the East End. Allen plays a self-satisfied yuppie, Jenny, whose cynical husband has invited two ghastly friends over for a bitchy booze-up. At first sight this looks like a Hampstead comedy from the 1970s but it’s a horror story, and it has a huge black hole at its core. A classic horror yarn should be driven by a single, powerful premise. In Ira Levin’s Deathtrap, a failing playwright has to bump off a talented rival to restore his fortunes. In Psycho, a bland motel is terrorised by a deranged and violent loner. Even Shakespeare dipped into the horror genre.

A Shakespeare play at the Globe whose best features have nothing to do with Shakespeare

Back to the Globe after more than a year. The theatre has zealously maintained its pre–Covid staffing levels. On press night, there were eight sentries patrolling the forecourt where just 42 masked spectators watched a revival of Sean Holmes’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Globe describes his show as ‘raucous’. The action is set in a forest near Athens during the classical era but the text uses 16th-century English. So it seems crazy to add a third time zone but most directors do so unquestioningly. This modernised production features an array of multicoloured stylings inspired by funfairs and Caribbean carnivals. The palette is a mad rainbow of acid pinks, savage