Review: Venus and Adonis at Shakespeare’s Globe

Last year Shakespeare’s Globe held the Globe to Globe festival, a celebration of Shakespeare with 37 plays in 37 languages. I, of course, attended every show. I may have mentioned this before on here. This year, the Globe is holding a slightly smaller scale version, with the South African Venus and Adonis, Georgian As You Like It, and Belarusian King Lear triumphantly returning, and an Indian Tempest joining the fun (last year we had a Bangla Tempest). Isango Ensemble’s Venus and Adonis opened last night and is running for five performances over this week.

I was really glad to see this show again; it was one of my favourites of the season last year (in fact it was my sixth favourite of all the productions, since I am apparently a weird person who obsessively ranks things), and is completely different to anything I’ve seen at the Globe before or since, in that it is a musical. A musical version of an epic poem. In six different languages. WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE? This is a real spectacle of a show, the singing and dancing is incredible, it is both funny and moving, and the cast are excellent.

Seven actresses (Pauline Malefane, Busisiwe Ngejane, Noluthando Boqwana, Nobulumko Mngxekeza, Zoleka Mpotsha, Zanele Mbatha and Bongiwe Mapassa) share the role of Venus, which is a lot of fun, and watching the ways they try to seduce Adonis (Mklekazi Mosiea with his amazing voice and all those facial expressions) is a major part of the first half. Things get more serious in the second half, with the appearance of Death, played rather spectacularly by Zebulon Mmusi. I find him really creepy, and his costume is quite something.

The music really is beautiful, especially when the whole cast are singing together and you get this wall of sound which seems to rise up through the Globe. Also, I don’t find the language barrier to be a barrier at all in this production; there is plenty of English in there which you can grab hold of, and the cast work really hard to engulf the audience in the story and the characters. They succeeded completely last night and we were all swept along with them until the final curtain call.

So if you have the opportunity, I really recommend this show. And if you can’t make it, then the Georgian As You Like It opens next week and I would highly recommend that one as well. Oh, Shakespeare’s Globe, you spoil us, you do.

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Film Strip Nail Art

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Using Models Own in Grey Day, Jessica in Starlight Starbright and Models Own nail art pen in silver.

My first nail art in a while. Actually, I tell a lie; I tried a new design last week and it was a bit rubbish so I didn’t put it up. That was a great story. Anyway, a film strip design this week. As we know from previous designs, I am a fan of the grey nail varnishes; other colours are available…

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Review: The Tempest at Shakespeare’s Globe

Last night the 2013 Globe Theatre season opened with a production of The Tempest and I WAS THERE. I’ve missed my Globe trips over the past few months so it was good to be back in the wooden O. I was a Groundling, of course, and was pretty early in the queue, of course. Some people tried to queue jump me but failed. It’s not the first time queue jumping has happened at the Globe, unfortunately; guys, I got here an hour before you, what on earth makes you think that you deserve to get into the theatre before me?! Sigh.

Anyway, onto the show. I’m not a big fan of The Tempest, I think it’s one of my least favourite Shakespeare plays; I find it sort of uneven and oddly paced. It’s also the first Shakespeare play I ever read, random-facts-about-Mouse fans. But I really enjoyed this production. A lot of Tempest productions go all out with the set and sound design to make a spectacle of the thing, but this production was pretty simple and very obviously Globe-ish. It sort of relied on the cast and musicians to provide most of the entertainment, which I think is right, and possibly a bit brave (we’ll see when the real reviews come in).

The cast were great. Roger Allam, one of my favourite actors, was Prospero. I found him to be authoritative and believable, and I liked his relationship with Miranda, played by Jessie Buckley, who had some great mannerisms and expressions; I enjoyed her interpretation a great deal. Joshua James as Ferdinand really mined his part for laughs; I normally forget Ferdinands but I haven’t forgotten his, which has to be a good sign. Colin Morgan was Ariel. He is a great actor, and I enjoyed how he played the spirit, all blinky and ethereal. Ethereal is definitely the word. He used the whole stage, was climbing all over the place and I thought he quite subtly showed that Ariel was completely obviously not human. Colin Morgan is great at this sort of thing, subtly making something seem completely obvious. I hope that sentence makes sense, because it is exactly what I mean. His harpy costume was pretty special as well, with his wings and weird clawed stilt things.

I think James Garnon as Caliban stole the show a bit, though.¬†He completely stole All’s Well That Ends Well at The Globe for me a couple of years ago, so he has form. Parolles is now my favourite Shakespearean character and it is mainly his fault. SIMPLY THE THING I AM SHALL MAKE ME LIVE, people. I’d heard him play Caliban in a Radio 3 production of The Tempest a few months ago (available here for the next four days), so I was very excited to see his portrayal IRL. His costume was great, what there was of it, and he had this gorilla gait going on which worked well with the character. It was great to see him at The Globe again; he was in Twelfth Night and Richard III last year but there were definitely more scene-stealing opportunities for him as Caliban.

There were several regular Globe actors in supporting parts, including Will Mannering (yay!), Peter Hamilton Dyer (yay! Incidentally he was also in the Radio 3 production but in a different role) and Sam Cox (all of the yays!). Sam Cox especially  gave some nice comic relief with Trevor Fox in their drunk butler and jester double act, often aided by James Garnon. It was a pretty great ensemble piece.

The show was full of music and singing, which was wonderful, and there was lots of dancing as well. I loved the dancing, especially the Prospero-and-Ariel-will-keep-Miranda-and-Ferdinand-apart dance. This is my name for it. I like it. It’s catchy. The traditional Globe jig at the end was a little, er, shambolic and will probably improve with time, after all it was only the first performance. But I think the jig always needs to be a little shambolic; it’s part of the fun. But I think it should probably end all at the same time.

Overall, I think the Globe did well with this production. I can’t say that it was outstanding, but I can say that I think it was a good version of a difficult play and it can only get better over the run, and it was enjoyable, and fun, and funny, and entertaining, and I’m looking forward to seeing it again in a couple of weeks. And that’s the main thing, right?

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Flame Nail Art

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Using Jessica in Starlight Starbright, Rimmel in Double Decker Red and Models Own nail art pen in yellow.

I’ve been reading The Hunger Games recently and so wanted to try some flame nail art. It looks better in real life, I think; it’s a little bright and shiny in the picture but it’s more grungy and dramatic in reality.

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Review: In The Flesh

I haven’t been particularly happy with BBC Three recently. For a start, it cancelled The Fades after just one series, one amazing, unique, funny, BAFTA-winning and unforgettable series. Not happy. Then Being Human ended too soon. Nuff said. I understand that BBC Three’s budget has been cut drastically, and they don’t have enough money to keep putting on these amazing shows, but it doesn’t stop me from missing them, and slightly begrudging the holes that they leave. I still lament the end of Doctor Who: Confidential.

When In The Flesh started on BBC Three a couple of weeks ago, I was all ready to hate it. And to be honest, after the first episode, I kind of did. I was expecting something more witty and pacy, like the usual BBC Three fare, so it came as a bit of a shock. Also, the ratio of partially deceased to wholly alive characters was, I thought, not quite right. Basically, I thought Kieren needed some friends. But I thought the show had potential to get really interesting, especially with regards to Steve Evet’s amazing portrayal of evil yet completely believable Human Volunteer Force leader, Bill, and the promised appearance of his partially deceased son in episode 2, so I decided to keep watching.

I was right to.

I now sort of love everything about it. I love the central relationship between Kieren and Rick (said son of Bill). I love that you can see the scars left by Kieren’s suicide in every move his parents and sister make. I love that the audience pretty much has to work out all the back story and relationships between characters for themselves. I love that the story concentrated on just the one village and that the whole subplot with the Undead Prophet and Blue Oblivion drug didn’t really go anywhere (that may seem weird but I didn’t particularly like those subplots so I was kind of glad that they didn’t become a major part of the story and just hovered around the background mysteriously). I love that the show doesn’t go ‘Look! Look! Our main character is gay!’ or ‘Hello, convenient new character. Here is all that has happened to my character before you got here.’

I want to see more. The Fades deserved far more than six episodes, and In The Flesh definitely deserves more than three. I can’t say that In The Flesh has filled the holes left by Being Human and The Fades, because, to be honest, I just don’t think it’s as good, but it has left a little hole next to the others.

Damn you, BBC Three. Look at me. I’m riddled with holes.

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