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Shakespeare's Globe in London is hosting five socially distanced shows this summer, including brilliant adaptations of As You Like It and Romeo & Juliet.

Shakespeare’s Globe is perfect for those who want to go see theatre, but don’t want to be locked up inside with a huge bunch of strangers. Here, you get to see world-class performances, all the while feeling the cool summer breeze flow all around. Winner!

And there are just so many shows on offer this season. They’re hosting As You Like It, The Tempest, Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night. It’s a good mix of comedy, drama, and heartbreak.

And these aren’t like the high school Shakespeare plays you’ve come to hate. These versions are played and directed by some of the best UK talent around.

We went down to the Shakespeare’s Globe to check out As You Like It and Romeo & Juliet and we’re taken aback by their reimaginings. See how the classics have been ever so slightly changed up for modern audiences. Both purists and newcomers are in for a treat at the Globe this summer.

As You Like It

The gender bending parts of this classic play are turned up to one hundred. And we are living for it. Usually, it’s just our dear Rosalind who dresses up as a man, in a bid to hide from Duke and spend time with her beloved Orlando.

For those who aren’t big on their Shakespeare knowledge, you might better know the plot by watching the all too brilliantly trashy She’s the Man film with Amanda Bynes.

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The entire cast act, sing and play musical instruments live

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But a fun twist within this production at the Globe, is that just about every actor gets into the cross-dressing shenanigans. The eight actors swap between roles over and over, even playing their own instruments and singing live. It’s insane just how talented some people are.

You may be a little confused as to who is who at first – with men playing women and vice versa so frequently. But you’ll quickly catch on and just a long for the ride. It’s a silly play. And these guys have a whole heap of fun with it. You can’t help but catch this infectious fun.

Romeo & Juliet

Now everyone knows this one. Romeo & Juliet has been done to death. And in so many different ways. But still, this production finds new significance. The story takes place in Verona, which in many ways, resembles our dear old London town today.

The city’s structures are broken, leaving so many of its citizens in a constant state of desperation. We come to see how, when a system favours the few, the many are left with nothing but unhealthy choices.

This is really cleverly shown with the help of a big screen hung right in the centre of the Globe’s stage. Each scene begins with a few lines of information being written above in bright red lettering.

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See how those in power, fail young people. Photos by Marc Brenner.

It helps you see each scene through a very particular lens – one which highlights the reasons why these young people became are the victims of a broken and unequal system.

Above one scene, we read about the patriarchy, in which men have all the power and boys are taught not to feel. In another, the screen reads ‘75% of children with mental health issues are not receiving treatment’. We also read that most youth clubs have closed down in the UK, and young people have nowhere to go.

In another scene the words ‘emotional neglect is a killer’ looms over the stage. It’s like having your high school teacher in the room with you as you watch the play. Giving insight into what Shakespeare is getting at. And how it is still so relevant.

The experiences of the young people on stage are starkly similar to that of many teenagers in London today. You can better understand the stabbings, suicides and antisocial behaviour of these people – and see just exactly what can be done to stop it from happening. It’s all avoidable. Their early deaths don’t have to be their fate.

This is all so subtly shown in Romeo & Juliet. And it’s done with some brilliant flair and panache. We highly recommend you see this tragic romance come to life at the Globe.

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