A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Korean, part of the Globe to Globe Festival
|Courtesy of Globe to Globe|
We Brits might not be world class at many things and sure, we don’t win a lot in ‘sports’ and our food is… mushy peas. However, we’ve never really needed any of these things, because, you see, we have Shakespeare.
37 Plays in 37 Languages is the tagline for this wonderful event, part of the World Shakespeare Festival, which in turn, has something to do with the Olympics by virtue of being part of the London 2012 Festival. These aren’t just any theatre companies coming to perform for us either – these are the best of their respective countries, many with international renown, and they really are putting on a spectacular show.
You have 3 choices when deciding what to watch at Globe to Globe. You could a) choose your favourite play regardless of the language, b) pick a language you’re familiar with, or c) throw caution to the wind and go see Henry VI in Albanian*.
We went for the first option and chose A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the Korean Yohangza Theatre Company, on the basis that we know the play inside out. We definitely didn’t know it like this though. The four lovers are the only characters left pretty much as you find them in the traditional text, whilst the mechanicals are not to be found at all and we were delighted and entertained instead by the singing, dancing, miming spirits of the forest.
There’s a real playfulness to the way this company has approached the text in this production, taking great leaps away from the traditional storyline and offering a fresh take on what many people consider to be their favourite comedy. The interaction with their English audience was especially heart-warming and the brilliantly timed bits of English they threw in received a great response. The lover’s fight scene was a hugely funny piece of physical theatre and the slow-mo action was a hilarious touch. In fact all the elements of physical comedy presented here were spot on and when transcending language barriers, physicality becomes even more important. All this, followed by the most elaborate curtain call you’ll ever see on a British stage, made for a brilliantly unexpected evening.
Sensibly, the Globe has opted not to go for full subtitles during performances. Instead, two screens on either sides of the stage give us one or two lines of summary for the scenes, allowing us to actually watch the play rather than read the subtitles.
Whilst the Yohangza Theatre company may have left the stage, we would still highly recommend going along to this festival. What we find particularly exciting about Globe to Globe is that it shows off the tremendous power that theatre has to bring people from all over the world together and give them an element of common ground. It’s part of the reason that we were sold the Olympics, which is supposed to unite people via sport. To be honest, like or loath the Olympics, it has brought with it some excitement in these depressingly austere times, and the London 2012 Festival and projects like Globe to Globe are, for us theatre lovers, most certainly a positive thing.
So we’ve got the Olympic spirit. It’s brought us a unique and highly entertaining version of our favourite Shakespeare to London, and if that isn’t worth £24 billion then I don’t know what is.
*If you’re considering this option, we strongly recommend going to the festival’s website and pressing the ‘random’ button; such fun!
Globe to Globe runs at Shakespeare’s Globe until 9th June 2012.
Box Office: 020 7401 9919or book online at http://globetoglobe.shakespearesglobe.com/