The addition of a cleverly designed roof has made the Pop-up Globe impervious to Auckland's weather, which means a winter Shakespeare season is now afoot.
It hasn't caused any serious harm to the remarkable intimacy of the already iconic venue. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a better place to chase away the winter blues.
First up, the contrasting extremes of Shakespeare's vision are crammed together in Twelfth Night with riotous buffoonery, exquisite poetry, brutal cruelty, farce, pathos, philosophical speculations and bawdy humour all jostling for attention. Dr Miles Gregory's finely judged direction somehow manages to hit the mark on all counts.
Pop-up Globe's trademark caterwauling chorus plunges us into a cartoonish world filled with exuberant mayhem and the ensemble brings sparkling clarity to the wildly improbable tale of fluid identities and misdirected passions.
Rebecca Roger's charismatic performance as Viola highlights the very real emotions that lie beneath the layers of role-playing and her robust articulation of the play's dazzling love lyrics "makes the babbling gossip of the air cry out".
Peter Hambleton brings a rambunctious grandeur to Sir Toby Belch's fondness for "beer and cake" and adds a spirit of gleeful malice to the merciless tormenting of Malvolio. His team of merry pranksters often threaten to bring the house down with Johnny Light's perfectly timed outbursts of twitishness standing in sharp contrast to Kate McGill's studious commitment to the mechanics of a well-laid prank.
Jonathan Martin, as the hapless Malvolio, gives a masterful display of physical comedy in his ill-judged romantic advances towards his mistress and elicits sympathy as the victim of vicious bullying.
Bob Capocci's outlandish costumes capture the mood of extravagant silliness and props designer Malcolm Dale has created suitably bizarre topiary for the play's famous concealment scene. Musical director Paul McLaney enhances the more lyrical moments with evocative cello pieces and kicks the action along with nicely understated percussion.
What: Twelfth Night
Where & When: Pop-up Globe, Ellerslie Racecourse until August 25.
Reviewed by: Paul Simei-Barton