Shakespeare’s Globe 21 New Globe Walk Bankside SE1 9DT To 27 April 2011.
TICKETS: 020 7401 9919/0871 297 0749 (See, booking fee).
Review: Carole Woddis 22 April.
Better in theory than practice.
The King James Bible is a bedrock. Since its publication 400 years ago, its stories and dictums have formed the foundation of our society, its imagery our imaginations. It is also, perhaps these days not altogether usefully, still the underlying control system dictating and determining our conduct in public and in private.
Most importantly, insofar as the Globe is concerned, the influence of the Old Testament and earlier versions of the Bible on Shakespeare is self-evident. Polonius’ lecture to Laertes before his departure is a straight steal, crisply summarised, from Proverbs.
That much became clear on an unseasonably hot and steamy Good Friday as the Globe company reached day six of their 400th anniversary performing of the entire King James Bible with a six hour session comprising Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isiah, Jeremiah and Lamentations.
Running altogether from Palm Sunday to Easter Monday. Judging by the Good Friday session, as a feat of technical stamina it was extraordinary.
Written to be performed, groups of actors took turns in two hour blocks, each one aided by a small recording machine with an attached earpiece. Whether the words were pre-recorded or simultaneously spoken – rather like Alecky Blythe’s verbatim theatre technique – it’s hard to say.
No doubting the herculean effort, the result, I’m sad to say, was strangely disappointing. In the end, more was less. The more you listened, the less the impact.
Director Jacqueline Somerville tried to break up the monotony and repetitiveness by moving actors around the main stage or out onto the thrust but to no avail. The overall impression was of a wasted opportunity, deadening rather than inspiring or revelatory.
Admittedly this may be a minority response. A surprising number of the audience turned up with their own Bible like ardent opera goers following a beloved work with score and text in hand. What the frequent band of tourists, propelled in momentarily by tour guides, made of it one can only ponder.
Part tourist trek, part shrine, the whole experience proved oddly dispiriting.
A better idea in theory than in practice – a bit like the Old Testament itself.
Actors: Gareth Armstrong, Keith Bartlett, Jason Baughan, Nicholas Beveney, Michael Brophy, Serena Evans, Louise Ford, Miranda Foster, Dana Gartland, Andrew Havill, Daniel Hawksford, Daniel Langley, Barbara Marten, Bill Nash, Rhiannon Oliver, Hugh O’Shea, Golda Rosheuvel, Nadia Shash, Bethan Walker, Leon Williams.
Musician: Akintayo Akinbode.
Director: Jacqueline Somerville.
Globe Associate – Text: Giles Block.
Globe Associate – Movement: Glynn MacDonald.
Voice Work: Chris Nolan.
Sound: David Rigby, Max Thompson.
Assistant Directors: Katharine Armitage, Emma Butler, Anna G Jones, Beckie Mills, Jane Moriarty.