Shakespeare at Parham House

The Globe is on the road, and Emma Pallant is having a great time as the company heads to West Sussex.

They play Parham House on May 27-28 (020 7401 9919) before moving on the Connaught Theatre, Worthing on May 30-31 (01903 206206) with their production of Much Ado About Nothing on a tour which will take them through to the end of the summer.

As Emma explains: “The way the tours work is that they are based on the idea that when Shakespeare was himself working, there would have been smaller touring versions of his plays, especially for when the theatres were closed because of the plague or whatever! They would go around the country, but it would of necessity have been a much-reduced company with a smaller cast of about ten perhaps, but we are doing it with eight.

“This is a show which we did at the Globe, which was fantastic. The Globe is just phenomenal. There is nothing like it. We have been to quite a lot of theatres around the place, but the Globe is totally unique in terms of shape and size and atmosphere, the fact that it is open-air for the people that are standing and that it is 1,600 capacity. But it is very deceptive in the way that it still feels very intimate from the stage. You can see everybody’s faces, everybody’s eyes! That’s what gives pay to the style of the theatre. You can’t ignore them. Part of the ethos of the theatre is that everybody is in a shared light. That means that for everybody, it is a shared play and a shared experience. It also means that you talk directly to the audience, especially in the soliloquies. That’s the whole point of soliloquies as the Globe sees it. We are very much encouraged to connect with the audience directly in that way.

“And we keep the house lights up if we play indoors. We have played Margate already, and that’s a Georgian theatre, a lovely little jewel box of a theatre. It was quite nice to have the lights up slightly. We also played Alnwick with the lights up. If someone in the audience is really laughing, you can see them. If someone is sleeping, you can see them.”

And no, you don’t wake them up.

“That’s their prerogative if they want to sleep. It just means that we have got to work all the harder!”

Much Ado is a play which lends itself particularly well to that shared-space ethos: “It’s a community play, and it is a comedy. Everybody is friends, more or less equals. It’s not like there is a king or anything too magical or mystical. It is just people in the town planning a wedding.”

Emma brings plenty of experience to the tour. She performed at The Globe as Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet 2013 and as Jaques in As You Like it, 2012. Now she is playing Beatrice.

Claudio loves Hero and Hero Claudio and nothing seems capable of keeping them apart. Claudio’s friend Benedick loves Beatrice and Beatrice Benedick, but (because neither will admit it) nothing seems capable of bringing them together. Only the intrigues of a resentful prince force Benedick to prove his love for Beatrice – by killing his best friend.