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Shakespeare's Globe

  • Theatre
  • South Bank
  • Recommended
  1. Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (© Manuel Harlan)
    © Manuel Harlan
  2. Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (© John Wildgood)
    © John Wildgood
  3. Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (© John Wildgoose)
    © John Wildgoose
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Time Out says

First-class theatre in a lovingly recreated Elizabethan setting

Built in 1599 and destroyed by fire in 1613, the original Globe Theatre was at the heart of London’s seedy South London entertainment district in William Shakespeare’s time. Here, productions were put on by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, who included in their company old Bill himself.

Fast forward to 1997, when, following a decades-long campaign run by the late American actor Sam Wanamaker, Shakespeare's famous wooden 'O' was recreated near its original site, using timber, thatch, and immaculately researched Elizabethan detail. You can get to grips with this theatre's history at its daytime tours, but there's a lot to be said for experiencing it in action. The venue's popular 'groundling' tickets invite punters to stand in front of the stage for under a tenner, or there's an option to get a more comfy view of the action from galleried bench seating. This outdoor space is closed in winter. But more recently, Shakespeare's Globe added the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse – a candlelit indoor theatre within the Globe’s building, which presents plays in a traditional Jacobean setting.

Artistically, there’s a commitment to the Bard, but within that it’s one of London’s liveliest and occasionally most controversial theatres.

Founding artistic director Mark Rylance led from the front: one of the world’s great actors, he still returns now and again. Just don’t ask him about whether he thought Shakespeare wrote all his own plays. 

Dominic Dromgoole, the longest serving artistic director, had a reputation for being somewhat combatitive, but ushered in something of a golden age for the theatre, and oversaw the completion of the indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse that allowed programming to go year round.

Emma Rice brought two scintillatingly good seasons of work to the Globe before she was forced out by the theatre's board, who were annoyed at her propensity for using amplified light and sound in productions. They wanted to restrict her; she walked.

The current artistic director is Michelle Terry. An actor-manager in the Rylance mould, she has focussed her efforts on diversity and actor-friendliness, and has already had her first hit with new feminist play 'Emilia', a story of Shakespeare's 'Dark Lady' which landed a West End transfer. 

Written by
Time Out editors

Details

Address:
21
New Globe Walk
Bankside
London
SE1 9DT
Transport:
Tube: Blackfriars/Mansion House/London Bridge
Price:
Exhibition and tour from £25, under 18s from £18
Opening hours:
Globe Exhibition and Tour daily 10am–4pm. Closed Dec 24 and 25. (Check in advance for dates when the tour is not available.)
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What’s on

Macbeth

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Shakespeare

You can drive yourself to distraction cobbling together theories as to why, but there’s no denying that some years one of Shakespeare’s plays will get done a lot more than the others. Often it’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. But it’s not the only game in town and in 2023, the play of the moment is gory supernatural revenge tragedy ‘Macbeth’.  This Globe production is the vanguard in a slew of revivals between now and Christmas. Up next is an RSC version with gags newly sharpened by Stewart Lee; following that a version starring Ralph Fiennes and Indira Varma that’ll tour to warehouse spaces across the country; to end the year there’ll be a Donmar take that’ll star David Tennant in the role of the ultimate murderous Scot.  I guess you don’t want to peak too soon, and in essence Abigail Graham’s Globe production seems a touch minor. There are some good - even great - ideas here. But the anticipation of all those hype-y leading men does underscore the fact that Max Bennett isn’t a very interesting Macbeth: he’s just a brittle posh guy whose mind slowly unwinds as he dutifully murders his way to the Scottish crown and beyond, at the behest of his wife and a series of portents he feels powerless to ignore. Matti Houghton‘s earthier Lady Macbeth also feels a bit tossed away, never really getting to grips with a role that can seem peripheral if the actor doesn’t really grab it by the horns.  The modern-dress nature of the production doesn’t really help: I get that a contemporary Macb

As You Like It

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Shakespeare

The basic point of ‘As You Like It’ as a performed play is to make Shakespeare’s rambling forest-set romance as much fun as physically possible in order to distract the audience from how meandering the story is. Sure, it’s full of great characters and speeches – including notable banger ‘all the world’s a stage’ – but it’s also basically a bunch of people fannying about in the woods for three hours. So you need to make it a laugh, and that’s exactly what director Ellen McDougall does with the final outdoor show of the Globe season, a queered-up take that skips over the sadder bits and generally sets its sights on a good time for all. Pouncing on the plot strand in which heroine Rosalind dresses up as a man in order to expedite her wooing of true love Orlando (for Reasons), McDougall’s ‘As You Like It’ is a cross-dressing extravaganza. In particular, Isabel Adomakoh Young’s ebullient, extravagantly fake-mustachioed Orlando is not so much lesbian coded as pretty much doing this drag king style. But that’s in no way suggesting her performance isn’t heartfelt. In fact the central relationship here is delightful, as the diminutive exile pursues the strapping Rosalind - performed with magnificently OTT blitheness and bluster by Canadian actor Nina Bowers, in the show’s stand-out performance.  Elsewhere there’s songs, streamers, a poem-writing contest, a wrestling match in the crowd, and a fun turn from Alex Austin as an arch Jacques who sets the mood for the production by playing o

Hansel and Gretel

  • Outdoor theatres

Hold on to your gingerbread lattes! This year’s outdoor Christmas show at the Globe – that is, it’s not in the indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, it’s really outside – is a brand new verse adaptation of the classic fairytale ‘Hansel and Gretel’ courtesy of the great Simon Armitage. There’s no casting announced yet and we’re not entirely sure what to expect from Armitage: the basics of the story are usually pretty similar (children lost in woods, breadcrumbs, witch, sweets), but the levels of sentimentality tend to vary dramatically, though as it’s ages five-plus it presumably won’t be too dark.

Othello

  • Shakespeare

There’s just one Shakespeare play in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse’s tenth anniversary season – which is a semi-throwback to the past as the early season at the Globe’s indoor venue didn’t feature any performances of the Bard’s works at all.  As is often the case with the Globe, we don’t know a huge amount about the production in advance, but it’s directed by Ola Ince, who gives her Shakespeare a socially conscious edge, and while some modern productions of the play are weirdly chary of making it a play about race – preferring to focus on jealousy instead – the blurb very much indicates that this won’t be the case here, indicating the production will ask ‘How do we respond to Black success? And what does it mean for accomplished Black men to be torn down by the society that initially lauded them?’.

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