London's own Shakespeare's Globe Theatre celebrated its first Broadway success as it transferred the sell-out London productions Twelfth Night and Richard III to the Belasco Theatre in New York this weekend.
Both directed by Tim Carroll, and presented as Original Practices productions with an all-male cast , Mark Rylance reprises his roles as Olivia in Twelfth Night, and the King in Richard III whilst Stephen Fry stars as Malvolio in Twelfth Night.
After previews from 15th October, the production opened last night (10th November) to the U.S. Press:
Ben Brantley for the New York Times wrote: "In this imported production from Shakespeare's Globe of London, deception is a source of radiant illumination for the audience, while the bewilderment of the characters onstage floods us with pure, tickling joy." He went on to remark that the last time he could remember being "so ridiculously happy for the entirety of a Shakespeare performance" was during a previous Shakespeare's Globe production of Twelfth Night in August 2002, also starring Mark Rylance and directed by Tim Carroll.
David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter observed that while the venture might have seemed "a commercially risky one for mainstream Broadway", it had become clear during previews that it would be "one of the major New York cultural events of the season", and concluded: "it's hard to imagine six more exciting hours of vital, emotionally and intellectually engaging theater".
In his review for the Huffington Post, David Finkle struggled cheerfully to cite his "standout elements" with everything so "bright and brilliant" – the "subtly intricate" lighting, Jenny Tiramani's costumes "authentic from undergarments out", Claire van Kampen's music underscoring proceedings so "lambently" and an ensemble cast "as accomplished… as has been seen locally in a long while".
Mark Kennedy at the Associated Press advised readers: "seeing Rylance in his element on Broadway is rare and special. Get thee hence." And Elizabeth Vincentelli for the New York Post declared: "You're not just going to the theater - you're experiencing what makes it magic."
Rylance and Fry will be playing in rep until 2 February 2014. The press release also notes that there is the "opportunity to see both productions in one day on Wednesdays and Sundays… with 250 $25 seats offered at every performance", replicating their well-known £5 yard tickets deal from the Shakespeare's Globe in London.