McGuinness/Euripides at Shakespeare's Globe
The clear counter-tenor of William Purefoy fills the Globe again – this time he is the Singer – chief of the chorus - in Euripides' Helen, ancient Greek drama in a new version by Frank McGuinness.
McGuinness's is a demotic voice, with cliché, phrase and saying studding this light-hearted tragedy.
Not so tragic, then, since this Helen has nothing to do with the Trojan War, as she is at pains to point out. A marvellous performance from Penny Downie, clearly spoken, deeply felt, with exemplary comic timing.
Her scruffy survivor Menelaus was played with energy and dignity by Paul McGann.
A mixed bunch of a supporting cast included Rawiri Panatene as the swaggering, gullible King of Egypt, and Penny Layden as a xenophobic gatekeeper with a heart of gold.
This year the Globe crew are sporting tee-shirts with a “scenery-free zone” message. But this show, like many of the others, has been fully designed: here there's a massive palace wall, with a spoil heap and a ladder round the pillar. All adding almost nothing to an already colourful production.
Can we have more work for our “imaginary forces” next year, please ?