A grand theatrical spectacle has been lovingly imported from London with the all-male Shakespeare’s Globe repertory productions of TWELFTH NIGHT and RICHARD III for sixteen weeks only – so you had better brush up your Shakespeare (www.SparkNotes.com) and high tail it over to the Belasco Theatre where they are performing these marvelous marathon plays.
Arrive early and stay late and you might even be able to bring home one of the hundred candles that illuminate the stage for a charitable donation to Broadway Cares. You will be enthralled by these two luscious productions done as they would have been performed in the time of Shakespeare – with the men playing the parts of the women – playing them straight so to speak – without camping it up at all. You’ll be amazed.
There are seats available on both sides of the stage in two tier galleries. Seven musicians face the audience high up on another level playing period instruments that add a most festive flavor to the proceedings where the music by Claire van Kampen takes us back in time.
As you enter the-perfect-for-these-productions Belasco Theatre the actors are preparing – applying make-up and being helped into their authentic costumes that have to be laced up and buttoned. They are beautifully designed by Jenny Tiramani (hats, ruffs and crowns included) who is also responsible for the unit set that has two sets of very active doorways.
Two of the unlit six chandeliers are lowered, the house lights dimmed a bit and the tapers are lit, then the chandeliers are raised as we are about to be given two of the best gifts to America from England ever.
There are six performances of TWELFTH NIGHT a week and two of RICHARD III as the comedy is more accessible than the tragedy although attending both will afford you the luxury of seeing the actors in different roles. If so desired you can overdose and see both on Wednesday and Saturday. The period dance finale/curtain call of each is staged so beautifully that you will leave elated with a newfound admiration for the profession that brings written characters to life – that of the actor.
This is how Shakespeare should be done. With no updates and no gimmicks. Just pure language, pure emotions and pure entertainment. With a great array of acting talent that cannot be matched, headed by Mr. Mark Rylance who portrays Olivia (seemingly floating across the stage as she begins to thaw and fall for a boy who is a girl played by a boy and a limping, deformed Richard III who with gleeful malice kills all those in his way to the throne – seeming to say – look how audacious I can be with a wink and a sob) along with a company of actors that redefines “ensemble”.
You will delight in everyone’s performance. But I must point out an exceptional Paul Chahidi as Maria/Hastings, Samuel Barnett as Viola/Queen Elizabeth, Liam Brennan as Orsino/Clarence, Angus Wright as Sir Andrew Aguecheek/Duke of Buckingham, Joseph Timms as Sebastian/ Lady Anne/Grey, Colin Hurley as Sir Toby Belch and Stephen Fry as the put upon Malvolio who vows to seek revenge on those that have humiliated him.
Tim Carroll has directed both superbly. TWELFTH NIGHT is a great comedy and RICHARD III a much more complicated and darker tragedy with more humor than you can imagine. They are not to be missed by aficionados of Shakespeare and anyone else looking to experience a one of a kind extremely special theatrical event.
www.ShakespeareBroadway.com Photos: Joan Marcus
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