I’ve not yet been to the Globe Theatre London, but that’s okay…having seen Shakespeare’s Globe in London isn’t a prerequisite for enjoying the Pop Up Globe in Auckland. In fact there’s little in the way of pre-viewing homework, hell you don’t even need to know the famous stories. After a popular first season set up in a carpark near Auckland Town Hall, the Pop Up Globe returned for a second season on the ground of Ellerslie Race Course AND a short season in Melbourne.
Four hundred years dead is a strange anniversary to mark, but the 2016 launch of the Pop Up Globe marked just that, the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and what better way to celebrate one of the worlds most famous writers, than with a pop-up, full scale, working replica of the Globe Theatre, and two seasons of Bill Shakespeare’s best known works. I’m crossing my fingers for a 2018 season, and contemplating a trip to Melbourne to see it all one more time.
The mark of a truly brilliant Shakespearian performance is whether it can engage an audience that don’t quite speak the language and aren’t familiar with the often told and well-known story lines, their performance of Romeo and Juliet was just that. It turned the giggling school girls behind us, into fans of Romeo, captivated by the story and hanging onto every scene with great intrigue… even after previously agreeing amongst themselves that they’d thought “Romeo would’ve been better looking.” I guess perhaps they were expecting Leonard DiCaprio.
The performance of Romeo and Juliet by The Pop-up Globe Theatre Company was truly magnanimous and enthralling, and the audience quickly fell for the original love struck teenage fool… Romeo. A few harsh critics dribbled on about the delivery and lack of gusto from Jonathan Tynan-Moss but I disagree… I found that his portrayal of Romeo included a realistic awkwardness, that reminded me of my own teenage years.
The Pop Up Globe was an awe inspiring theatre experience for Aucklanders; an incredible full scale replica constructed out of plywood and scaffolding, with minimal dressings and sawdust still on the floor it allows the audience to experience the plays in a space was designed for its performance – no set, no lights and no holds barred on the gore. The audience feels so close and integral to the play and those in the “cheap seats” or Groundlings are nail bitingly close to the action, which can include generous servings of fake blood.
Be warned though, while the performances are most definitely brilliant they do present a slightly different take on things, the tables are turned outbursts of laughter are created through rich performances, bursting with characters, energy and hilarity. It draws you, leaving you attached to the characters and giggling at the same time.
While the Pop Up Globe in Auckland is a fantastic environment that transports you to a time where plays and performances were regular forms of entertainment Romeo and Juliet is long at over 2.5 hours, and the seats can be a little uncomfortable. Bringing a cushion isn’t a silly idea, and neither is wearing flat comfy shoes if you happen to be standing. Also in keeping with authenticity there is no air con or likewise heating… so dress for sitting/standing in a crowded open-air theatre.