Shakespeare in the Garden: What You Will

Shakespeare’s body of work is well-traveled by theatrical patrons – some might say imposingly so. Those unacquainted usually balk at the boredom and alienation they find; binning the schoolbook copy of Macbeth at the soonest possible chance. The Globe Players would like to give you a second ‘first impression’. This contextualised taster menu of the work keeps all the notes and flavour of the best, but boils them down to bite-size morsels; a short-and-snappy date with Shakespeare; the theatrical ‘Spark Notes’. With abundant energy and enthusiasm, the four-piece whisks us through the highlights with just enough time to savour and swallow before romping on once more through the meets-and-greets of this Elizabethan Disneyland.

The romantic notion of a picnic with Prospero and friends under fairy lights is enticing - and really, the selling point of the piece

Well-rounded, grounded, and devoid of a patronising sugar-coating, there is definitely much to be enjoyed for the older audience member too. But for the well-acquainted amongst you, the show is a little limited and I would advise picking a meatier option from the Fringe menu.

Indeed, I feared upon arrival I’d entered ‘am-dram’ territory. But I came to be impressed by the standard of acting on show. The ultimate skill of taking on the mantle of any one of Shakespeare’s plays is to get to the truth of the meaning as opposed to getting tangled up in the prose. The Globe Players nailed it; if it wasn’t for their eponymous title, you would forget you are watching a Shakespeare at all. Diction and tonal, nuanced expression kept the truth tight and plot punchy, proving easy to follow.

Oliver Stephens, in particular, carries the piece. His physical energy and interaction with the audience engages from the get-go and there is a magnetism to watching him: he has that inherent charisma and likability often possessed by inspiring secondary school teachers.

The troop on the whole handles their copious costume and character changes with ease, deftly flickering between tragedy, comedy, and farce, while mostly retaining nuanced performances of the 20 or so characters they carry. Quite the challenge, considering that each scene is so iconic. Whilst Michael McEvoy takes up the mantle and gives us majestic renderings of Lord Falstaff and Lord Capulet, Joanna Lucas slightly stumbles into staginess tasked with Juliet’s balcony scene.

The Globe Players keep true to their eponym and put on an outdoor performance true to the period with stripped back costumes and sparse set and props. Whilst this erred on the side of gimmicky at points, it avoided over-complication and kept focus on the story. Unfortunately, the drizzle had other ideas and it became the ultimate distraction from what was a solid, albeit simple, production. The romantic notion of a picnic with Prospero and friends under fairy lights is enticing - and really, the selling point of the piece - though the very Scottish reality of it rather rains on the parade. Enthusiasm, energy and an engaging and entertaining performance is promised - good weather is not.

Reviews by Suzanna Swanson-Johnston



C venues - C south

Shakespeare in the Garden: What You Will




The Blurb

A lively introduction to Shakespeare and his plays as we find ourselves mariners caught in a great tempest at sea. Cast ashore, we meet many of the characters that populate Shakespeare’s world. Combining scenes from ten of the Bard's comedies, tragedies and histories, including the most famous pair of lovers of all time. Bring your own food and drink or purchase it in the garden whilst you enjoy this romp through the wonderful world of William Shakespeare. Perfect for picnicking with the family.