City centre workers who travel along Mayoral Drive may have noticed a pile of scaffolding rapidly growing in the carpark behind Q Theatre and The Basement.

The skeletal cylindrical structure is informed by the legendary (second) Globe Theatre built in London more than 400 years ago and made famous by playwright William Shakespeare.

The Pop-Up Globe taking shape in central Auckland claims to be the first exact replica of the old design, albeit picked out in plywood and alloy tubing. Once decorated and sheathed it promises to be a building replete with atmosphere. The temporary playhouse opens late next month with a handful of the Bard's best-loved works running concurrently.

Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night will feature a score performed live, composed and arranged by singer/songwriter Paul McLaney, who some will know as Gramsci or, perhaps, as a former long-time member of the SJD band. Ardent fans may be familiar with a raft of online albums from his latest incarnation, The Impending Adorations.


Though McLaney may lack restraint when it comes to personal branding, he has a cultivated perspective on the works of Shakespeare and their vast potential for musical accompaniment.

"Seven or eight years ago, I was playing a show in Kerikeri and Ian Mune was in attendance," remembers McLaney. "He said there was something 'madrigalesque' about what I was doing and he mentioned no one's ever set the soliloquies to music."

Some from the local ivory tower said, 'no no no, you can't do Shakespeare', but McLaney's slowly-turning interest in bringing music to those well-known words was fired - at a time when Shakespeare was being struck off the curriculum at a number of high schools.

McLaney's appreciation of language was fostered at an early age in the Far North: "I was lucky enough to have two great English teachers at Whangarei Boys' High School. Mr McMenamin used to cry when he read the soliloquies. It wasn't quite Dead Poets Society, but it was pretty close."

At the Pop-Up Globe in April, McLaney presents a series of Shakespeare's soliloquies set to music and performed by some of the country's finest vocalists including Julia Deans and Mara TK of Electric Wire Hustle. Before then, you'll be able to hear his scores performed live when the theatre opens on February 17.

"There's no amplification for the musicians. The idea of the Pop-Up Globe is to recreate the original experience so there's 900 people in there and no PA," says McLaney, who thinks Shakespeare is still as vital and relevant as ever.

"He was more Steven Spielberg than Lars von Trier. If you love the language, he's the one. If you love melody, Paul McCartney's pretty good, and Mozart. It's about making it accessible. It's pretty bawdy stuff in places. He wasn't really writing for the lords and the ladies, he was writing for the people, it was their Friday night."