by Samuel Adamson.
Shakespeare’s Globe 21 New Globe Walk Bankside SE1 9DT In rep to 18 August 2013.
Runs 2hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7401 9919.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 19 July.
The trumpet shall sound and the audience be amazed.
Shakespeare bedded-in for the season, the open-air Globe turns to the indoors of late 17th-century playhouses when English drama was being fashioned, or re-fashioned in the case of Shakespeare, on classical lines imported from France. With women actors too.
Playwright Samuel Adamson announces during Gabriel several little plays within his overall kaleidoscope of the theatre and its environs. Chatty cabbies are replaced by the watermen who rowed playhouse customers across the near-bridgeless Thames. Noted for their foul language, they are incarnated in the excellent Sam Cox’s voluble Francis.
Here too are the ridiculously-named fops of Restoration theatre, the mélange of royals from the Orangerie house, notably a hydrocephalic scion insisting trumpets are for all-important war. Yet, while Gabriel traditionally blew his trumpet in military causes, this piece’s implied Gabriel (or Orpheus) is composer Henry Purcell.
Purcell’s royal odes went with theatre music and filthy alehouse catches (one lustily chorused here) until his death at 36, on 21 November 1695 – one day before St Cecilia’s Day, patron of musicians (on which Purcell’s great admirer Benjamin Britten was born in 1913). He showed the trumpet’s expressive range, besides providing aural similarities at moments with string or wind instruments.
Gabriel gives a deserved foreground to the Globe’s musicians, whose contributions over the years make clear how much theatre (like cinema) relies on music. Mood music aplenty is called for in the stories Adamson incorporates, none stranger than the actor husband and wife who turned out both to be women. When the nature of their love was revealed they were forcibly separated, with very different consequences.
At the heart of this musical medley of narratives and invented pictures of society is Alison Balsom, a trumpet soloist with a successful concert career, who trips nimbly about the stage, playing a natural trumpet with a smoothness and variety of sound that’s a sensuous delight in itself, even before touches of sweet Purcellian harmony are supplied.
A commercial management would be unlikely to commit to this ambitious production, so it’s as well someone with Dominic Dromgoole’s boldness and imagination both runs the Globe and directs so fluently.
Rich/Tapster/Queen Mary’s Advisor: Jason Baughan.
Tenor/Fop/Drinker: Stephen Anthony Brown.
Arabella/Kate: Jessie Buckley.
Sir Surplustorequirements/Francis Taylor/Ensemble: Sam Cox.
Sir Redundant/Betterton/Matthew: Pip Donaghy.
Wigmaker/Sir Doesnotmatterverymuch/Rake/Phoebus/Coridon: Peter Hamilton Dyer.
Bill/Neighbour: Trevor Fox.
Dr Radcliffe/Briggs/Rake/Husband: James Garnin.
William/Parson/Ensemble: Joshua James.
Sir Cockmerry/Ned/Rake/Irishman/Ensemble: William Mannering.
Joan/Midwife/Ensemble: Barbara Marten.
Queen Mary: Charlotte Mills.
Countertenor/Mary’s Attendant/Mopsa/Fop/Ensemble: William Purefoy.
Lewis/Peter/Christopher: Matthew Raymond.
John: Richard Riddell.
Dutchwoman/James-Amy/Caroline/Lady Curious/Wife/Ensemble: Sarah Sweeney.
Starling Puppeteer: Ben Thompson.
Alice/Lady Victim/Hannah: Amanda Wilkin.
1st Trumpet: Alison Balsom.
Violin: Sophie Barber, Liz McCarthy, Walter Reiter.
2nd Trumpet: Mark Bennett.
’Cello: Joseph Crouch.
Harpsichord: Tom Foster.
Theorbo/Baroque Guitar: Arngeir Hauksson.
Viola: Louise Hogan.
Timpani/Percussion: Robert Howes.
Bass Violin: Peter McCarthy.
Sackbut/4th Trumpet: Abigail Newman.
Bassoon: Zoe Shevlin.
Oboe/Recorder: Martin Stadler.
3rd Trumpet: Adrian Woodward.
Director: Dominic Dromgoole.
Designer: Jonathan Fensom.
Musical consultant/Rehearsal director: Trevor Pinnock.
Music Director: Bill Barclay.
Choreographer: Will Tuckett.
Movement associate: Glynn MacDonald.
Voice/Dialect: Martin McKellan.
Puppet Maker: Paul Vincent.
Associate director: Adele Thomas.