This six-week festival is one of the more ambitious theatrical seasons to be seen in London in recent years: 37 Shakespeare works in 37 languages, staged by companies from around the world. Here, from a groundling perspective – standing only, £5 a ticket – is a sample of Week Four’s offerings; earlier reviews can be found at www.ft.com/arts/globe1 and www.ft.com/arts/globe2
King John, Gabriel Sundukyan National Academic Theatre, Armenia
It was rather disorientating – outside it was sunny (a rare bonus); on stage it looked like band practice in some Armenian backwater, writes Alexander Gilmour. Musicians in modern dress – some drunk, some spoiling for a fight – traipsed on with bits and bobs. Instruments warmed up – shouts, brawls – and King John burst forth spontaneously with props and costumes improvised (a leather crown to signify a king). It felt excellently unhinged – not naturalistic, but right in the messy, ad hoc spirit of the drama.
King Lear, Belarus Free Theatre
The marriage was a poignant one: a company from “Europe’s last dictatorship” accustomed to performing in secret – and a play about speaking the truth, writes Griselda Murray Brown. The tragedy veered into comedy with burlesque musical numbers, but mostly the mood was dark and the sense that the source of evil is often obscured – with anonymous heavies in balaclavas doing the dirty work – was powerful. Simple staging (the storm: a plastic sheet and bucket of water) and strong performances made for a thrilling couple of hours.
Henry IV, Part 1, Compañía Nacional de Teatro, Mexico
Roberto Soto’s Falstaff swaggered through this compelling evening with twinkling glee, flaunting a pendulous prosthetic belly, writes David Cheal. This was a bawdy, broad-brush production that accentuated the comedy, though as dusk deepened, Constantino Moran’s Prince Hal added a dark streak of danger. Percussive music came from a band in the gallery, enhancing the dialogue’s musicality – though occasionally over-signalling the comic moments. All received with relish by a large audience.