Rice stays put; it must be love

Emma Rice’s final summer season at the Globe Theatre an act of love
No chance of leaving: artistic director Emma Rice Photo by Sarah Lee

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.
It’s as good an occasion as any upon which to hang the Globe Theatre’s summer season of Shakespearean comedies and tragedies (which opens on 22 April), but one that has taken on new meaning following the axing of artistic director Emma Rice.

It must have taken a great deal of love to agree to stay on after the board announced they would be parting ways over her experimental style, a move almost universally criticised by industry figures, including rival organisation the Royal Shakespeare Company, which labelled the divorce a “great shame”.

Speaking at the Summer of Love season’s launch in February, she told the media her primary reason for staying until after the Winter 2017/18 season was the “astonishing” new programme that had got her through a “pretty tricky time”. “I stayed because of this season,” she said. “There is no way that I was going to walk away from this season, these people and what we’re about to make in this amazing building.” And there is a lot of love about the programme, which kicks off next week with Romeo & Juliet. Here are the shows to look out for:

Romeo & Juliet
English National Opera artistic director Daniel Kramer joins the Globe to direct a “vibrant and volatile” take on the Bard’s most famous romance, vowing to shift the focus on the play’s darker themes; glamorisation of violence, sex and the brutality of death. Edward Hogg and Kirsty Bushell play the star-crossed lovers, with Harish Patel as Friar Lawrence and Golda Rosheuvel as a gender bending Mercutio.
22 April to 9 July

Twelfth Night
Emma Rice takes the direction of this timeless cross-dressing comedy, describing her take as “like Love Boat meets Margaret Thatcher.”
Expect a riotous and rowdy production akin to Emma’s inaugural production at the Globe – a Bollywood production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Carly Bawden stars as Maria and George Ikediashi, also known as award-winning drag performer Le Gateau Chocolat, as Feste, with Anita-Joy Uwajeh and John Pfumojena as twins Viola and Sebastian.
18 May to 5 August

Much Ado About Nothing
Shakespeare’s most frequently performed comedy has no chance of growing stale in the hands of director Matthew Dunster, who last year sent Cymbeline into East London’s drug gangs and has this time promised a relocation to the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Casting has yet to be announced, but expect to find Shakespeare’s madcap characters and tale of agnostic romance right at home amongst a fusion of Latin music, desert flowers and revolutionary politics.
14 July to 15 October

King Lear
US director Nancy Mecker, best known for her role as the founder and former artistic director of Shared Experience theatre company, will make her debut at the Globe overseeing King Lear’s gradual descent into madness as the kids fight over the cash. Kevin McNally has just been announced in the title role.
10 August to 14 October