Photos – Jay Wennington
The pop-up Globe was founded in New Zealand in 2015, an inspired and genius idea on the parts of two Aucklanders, Dr Miles Gregory and Tobias Grant (Founder Artistic Director/ CEO and Executive Director respectively), and is in Melbourne until November 11. This replica theatre is historically more accurate size-wise than the Globe Theatre in London, having been meticulously researched by Professor Tim Fitzpatrick of Sydney University. Auckland now enjoys a permanent pop-up Globe, and the one currently in Melbourne will undoubtedly be in demand everywhere else for evermore.
Three companies are performing at the Pop-up Globe: the King’s Men, the Queen’s Men and The Admiral’s Men under the umbrella of the Pop-up Globe Theatre Company. The plays are Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, Othello and Henry V, all written between 1598 and 1604. Why these plays? The theme of jealousy as the plot driver is what unites these stories; in As You Like It power rivalry and jealousy of another's position initially propel the events, rather than sexual jealousy, some of which comes later.
The best night of theatre ever, this. It’s a terrific experience to see a Shakespeare play in an as near to an authentic environment as possible without going all the way to modern London, it's like a time travelling experience. Opening night was a performance of As You Like It, the rudest, most rambunctiously scabrous and downright filthy production with every innuendo, all the gags (visual and aural), all the clowning around and hamming it up you could want in the campest thing ever, with sheep shagging, defecation, and spewing thrown in. With the female characters played by men, the inherent earthiness is layered even further, making for hilarious madness, especially when a male actor is playing a woman who pretends to be a man. Rosalind is played by Jonathan Tynan-Moss and Celia is by Stanley Andrew Jackson III – show stealers, both. The cast includes Melbourne’s Paul English as Duke Senior. Tom Mallaburn directs. The sheep are especially delightful.
You cannot take the antics on stage seriously, although the story has dark beginnings, with a group of aristocrats either banished or fleeing forced to fend for themselves in the Forest of Arden, the result of acts of usurpation, jealousy and murder plots on the part of relatives. On forced retreat from the backstabbing world of the court, the characters are given freedom to reflect and learn who they are while doing without privilege and, although no leafy fairyland, the Forest of Arden itself works a magic. Tenacity in love is eventually rewarded and even the villains get to ‘rehabilitate.’
All the gender-bending and silly buggering around in this production renders any sort of scholarly analysis almost beside the point (there’s no question of ‘a woman question’). You’re reminded of how Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre was the entire opposite of elitist: you don’t have to understand plot details or know what’s going on to enjoy it, and it’s heartening to hear of the numbers of people who went to productions in New Zealand (two seasons each saw over 100,000 people attend). I overheard one audience member after the show say “I didn’t know Shakespeare could be funny!”
Pop-up Globe King’s Company presents
As You Like It
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Tom Mallaburn
Venue: Pop-up Globe | Sidney Myer Music Bowl in the Kings Domain, Linlithgow Ave, Melbourne VIC
Dates: until 11 November 2017 (check the website for details)
Tickets: $304.67 – $20.33