Shakespeare, Not Austen; or What You Will


There you have it: Shakespeare’s Globe. While the theater does not sit on the exact site of the original, it’s close. Want to know more about the Globe? Check out this site. This summer, the Globe is home to a series of plays falling under the heading, “Summer of Love.”


Plays in the group include Twelfth Night, Much Ado about Nothing, and King Lear (why Lear? you might ask–remember the love game that starts Act 1!). I saw Twelfth Night; or What You Will (a subtitle many people forget) on the evening of July 1. This production is one that must be seen at night, for it includes a screen image of the moon and a lot of purple and red light effects, as shown in this post-show pic below. (NB: We stood in the yard for only £5 and after the show sat in on a bench to get a different view.)


I have to say that I was blown away by this production. I have seen the London Stage Actors perform the play, but that pales in comparison to Emma Rice’s version of this play. While reviews of Rice’s production have been mixed, I absolutely adore this production. In my opinion, it is difficult to stage Shakespeare’s comedies in the 21st century because so many of the jokes are lost on us–especially when directors try to stage them in 16th- and 17th-century costumed productions. Rice manages to forgo this problem by setting her production in 1979 Scotland. She retains the Bard’s language, but makes some necessary cuts to scenes that even I (lover of Shakespeare) found a bit annoying. She has turned the clown, Feste, into the most wonderful drag artist I have every seen and heard (played by the amazing Le Gateau Chocolat). Malvolio is played by a tiny actor with a big voice, Katy Owen. By the way, many of the parts are gender-swapped, which is fantastic! Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are Scottish. Sir Andrew and Orsino sport mullets. It is all so wonderful!

One of my favorite aspects of this production is the music. It is hip and fun. The musicians are amazing. The singing is amazing. I really felt like I was attending Twelfth Night: The Musical. I love musicals! 🙂 Take a listen to some of the songs:



All in all, I found this production funny, charming, and indicative of the ways contemporary artistic directors can help audiences connect with Shakespeare. I, for one, connected more with the play than I had before. I haven’t taught Twelfth Night in my Shakespeare class before, but after seeing/hearing this production, I probably will.


For what it’s worth, after the show ended I got separated from my partner. I was pushed out of the theater; he was stuck on the inside waiting for me. For about 30 minutes, we waited for each other. I had nothing on me–my phone, wallet, etc. were all in the backpack he carried. Finally, as fate would have it, we found each other. As Viola and Sebastian find their way back to each other, so did my husband and I. It made for a tense half hour, but a wonderfully ridiculous story for years to come. Lost in the Globe? Locked out of the Globe? At least on our walk back to our hotel we stumbled upon the wonderful mural above. Thanks, trippy Shakespeare mural for this fun pic!

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