Staging new material at the Globe can be a tricky business but fortunately Peter Oswald’s new play undercuts all concerns. The Storm is an absolute delight; a delicious blend of the risqu and the absurd. With his somewhat unorthodox adaptation of Plautus’ Roman comedy, Oswald has created a highly effective and surprisingly relevant work full of laugh out loud moments.
One of the many joys of this production is its excellent cast – there is some wonderful acting talent on display. Mark Rylance excels in each of his three roles. His performance reminded me of the equally compelling Marcello Magni in the Globe’s current production of Pericles (the high point of an otherwise disappointing production) and provides yet more proof of his adaptability as an actor.
Rylance’s onstage side-kick is just as amusing. Charmides, the trainee pimp, is excellently played by Edward Hogg. Portraying a cigar-smoking, gun-brandishing, bad-70s-dancing clich of a character, he demonstrates perfect comic timing and an admirable conviction in the role.
James Garnon – a Welshman in an English theatre – plays the sole Greek in a Roman play; a clearly talented young actor with a flair for satire and farce, his performance adds another welcome layer to this production.
Playing two young, orphaned prostitutes, Jodie Whittaker and Emma Lowndes temper the tragedy of their roles with plenty of humour. Their characters manage to both charm and disgust the audience whilst remaining consistently amusing throughout.
The actors are complimented on stage by two ballet dancers who, with their bawdy bum-waggling and pelvic-thrusting, wouldn’t look out of place in Adam Cooper’s steamy Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
As capable as actors as they are as dancers, their presence adds another provocative element to the whole theatrical experience. As does an excellent score from Master of Music Claire van Kampen; and sticking the musicians on stage in green togas and frilly bathing caps is an inspired touch adding as it does to the mania and absurdity of the production.
Rylance’s swansong season at the Globe has not been its strongest but this is no bad way to bow out. The Storm is a stunning piece of work, which though it may not appeal to everyone, says some interesting things about the nature of love, family and fidelity. Rylance also has his chance to get in a few in-jokes about funding and talent in the theatre and and a whole lot of audience participation.
Though drawn from an ancient play, this is a bright, free-spirited, forward-thinking show, life embracing and life enhancing, a pleasure to watch. Recommended.