It’s Shakespeare’s birthday today. Okay, technically, April 23 is the day he died, back in 1616, but we don’t know exactly which day he was born (it was in late April). So anyway. Naturally, today is always a big day for Shakespeare’s Globe, and being closed isn’t stopping it from celebrating in style.
First up, BBC iPlayer is hosting two complete archive Globe productions – Emma Rice’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ starring Ncuti Gatwa, and ‘The Tempest’, starring Roger Allam and Colin Morgan – as part of its Culture in Quarantine strand. The plays will be available – for free, naturally – until August.
Emma Rice’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, from 2016 was widely heralded as a riot (in a good way) – self-referential, magical, energetic and challenging, it’s the antithesis of gossamer fairies in sylvan glades. Our review at the time said: ‘Rice’s “Dream” is a wild, bright, polysexual romp in which the theatre’s fidelity to the Elizabethan period is merrily chucked out of the window. Almost everyone is in modern dress, there’s a Bollywood-style soundtrack and Shakespeare’s script does not survive unscathed.’
On a slightly less hectic tip, the 2013 Globe production of ‘The Tempest’ is a fresh new take on the stuck-on-a-desert-island-with-some-weird-creatures late-period classic. At the time we called it ‘a bold comic reinvention of Shakespeare’s final play’, singling out Roger Allam (‘The Thick of It’, ‘Endeavour’) for his ‘novel, funny and very human take on the stick-in-the-mud-ish Prospero’.
That’s not all the Globe has up its Elizabethan sleeve, either. There’s lots more stuff, including its excellent podcast, and details of its version of ‘Macbeth’ specially designed for kids on its site. Happy birthday, Will!
‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘The Tempest’ are available on BBC iPlayer until August. Free.
The National Theatre at Home is streaming Tamsin Greig’s ‘Twelfth Night’ for the next week.
Explore the whole series of National Theatre at Home streaming productions, including Benedict Cumberbatch’s ‘Frankenstein’.