If you had any lingering doubt of how popular Shakespeare is around the world, then a quick browse of the Globe Player would immediately set you straight.
There’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream from the Yohangze Theatre Company of Korea (Korean without subtitles), a spirited All That Ends Well from the Arpana Company of India (Gujarati with English synopsis), Coriolanus from the Chiten Theatre Company of Japan (Japanese with English subtitles) and the Merry Wives Of Windsor from the Bitter Pill Company of South Africa (Swahili with English synopsis).
And if you like that lot, there’s plenty more where that came from. The Globe Player features versions of Shakespeare’s plays in French, German, Turkish, Georgian, Lithuanian, Hebrew, Russian, Mexican Spanish, Bangla, Serbian, Albanian, Brazilian Portuguese, Dari Persian, Urdu, Macedonian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Castilian Spanish, Palestinian Arabic, Armenian, Polish, Swahili, Yoruba, Maori, and Juba Arabic.
Fortunately, there’s also a bit of English thrown in, if your Swahili is not what it was.
The player is the work of Shakespeare’s Globe – and what a wonderful job they’ve done with it. There are over 70 productions to choose from, with most of the Bard’s major works covered.
You can rent titles (prices start at £2.99) or buy them outright (from £5.99). There are some really good value deals, too. For instance, the King’s and Rogues bundle offers The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry VIII and Henry IV part 1 & 2 for £30. Meanwhile, the Wonder and The Summer of Love bundle comes with A Midsummer Nights Dream, King Lear and Twelfth Night – all for £30.
The standard of the productions on the player are excellent too. Tim Carroll’s Twelfth Night is a particular highlight. A majestic Stephen Fry stars as Malvolio with an almost unrecognisable Mark Rylance playing it for laughs as Olivia.
Dominic Dromgoole’s clever Henry IV part 1 is good too. Roger Allam gives a fine performance as the swaggering buffoon Falstaff with
The Globe Player is a great way to discover the plays of William Shakespeare, if you are not able to visit the Globe itself. Rental prices are reasonable, the bundles are good value, and the quality of the performances is hard to beat.
The Globe Player can be accessed here.
For information on other ways to access London culture while at home, please click here.