'For the rain it raineth every day," Feste sings in the celebratory finale of
, and right on cue a subtropical downpour cascaded through the open roof of the building which recreates the dimensions of a structure that once housed Shakespeare's players.
For the intrepid souls standing in for the "groundlings", the deluge only enhanced the jubilation of an experience that shows what it might have been like for the crowd who filled the Globe over 400 years ago.
It is difficult to overstate the impact of seeing Shakespeare in this space. With no attempt to hide modern materials, the skeletal structure seems to strip away the layers of pomposity that cling to heavily conceptualised modern productions.
You begin to see how the building itself contributed to an artistic revolution forged by a hard-working band of players and a poetic genius who created a radically new understanding of what it means to be human. Acutely sensitive to the democratic vitality of Shakespeare's vision, director Miles Gregory establishes a wonderfully informal vibe that has the players merging into the crowd in front of the stage. But there is plenty of craft beneath the interactive chaos.
A cosmopolitan cast executes finely choreographed physical clowning and precisely articulates the play's seductive lyricism.
Among the many fine performances, Stanley Andrew Jackson III, as the hapless Malvolio, carries the audience with him on every step of a journey from self-absorbed preening to abject humiliation.
In an era where personal identity is freighted with existential significance, Twelfth Night transports us into a whirligig world of images, disguise and role-playing where identity is delightfully fluid.
What: Twelfth Night
Where: Pop-up Globe Theatre, Greys Ave. Until April 16.