In a break from the doom and gloom that’s gripped the theatre world recently, Shakespeare’s Globe boss Michelle Terry revealed at a launch event this week that the iconic Bankside venue’s somewhat conservative 2023 season – just four shows, all big-name Shakespeare plays – payed off better than expected, stabilising the theatre’s rocky post-pandemic finances and allowing a bigger, riskier 2024 season.
Not to say that the plan is to now stage an incredibly obtuse summer of outdoor shows, but this year the number of main productions is back up to six, new writing has returned to the programme for the first time in a while, and the Shakespeare selection mixes in some heavier stuff classics with the jaunty comedies.
The headline event is probably Terry herself taking the title role in ‘Richard III’ (May 9-Aug 3, pictured) – a seriously heavyweight part after years of the actor-artistic director playing significant smaller characters like Puck in last year’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Her take on the bloodthirsty monarch will open just a little after the first show of the season, a take on crowd-pleaser ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ (Apr 25-Aug 24) from director Sean Holmes, starring Ekow Quartey and Amalia Vitale (preceded by an abridged pre-season schools version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ Mar 19-Apr 13).
Later on and perhaps the most striking show in the season is ‘Anthony and Cleopatra’ (Aug 4-Sep 15) starring deaf performer and Globe regular Nadia Nadarajah as the Egyptian queen in a bilingual English/British Sign Language production, and hip director Jude Christian tackling the thorny ‘Taming of the Shrew’ (Jun 6-Oct 26).
Holmes’s 2023 hit version of ‘Comedy of Errors’ (Aug 21-Oct 27) will return to round off the season, alongside ‘Princess Essex’ (Sep 13-Oct 26), a new play from Anne Odeke, which tells the incredible true story of Princess Dinubolu, the first woman of colour to enter a UK beauty pageant, back in 1908.
There will also be an indoor family show during the summer holidays – ‘Rough Magic’ (Jul 20-Aug 24) is a comedy from Kerry Frampton and Ben Hales that follows the further, funnier adventures of the Weird Sisters from Macbeth.
The 2024 Globe season will go on public sale Feb 7.
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