Following King Prasutagus’s death and an unjust usurpation of his lands, Boudica challenges Catus (Samuel Collings), Procurator of Rome, who then flogs her and allows her daughters to be raped by Roman soldiers. Bernays writes in iambic pentameter verse as well as slang speech, establishing an ancient world that still seems near at hand. The humour is effective but a tad predictable, while moments of Bernays’ poetry resonate well.
Unfortunately, their culminating scene together is more of an epilogue to the action and sits strangely in the rest of the script. Boudica is instead given the climactic moment, and while staged beautifully and well delivered by McKee, it doesn’t entirely grip. McKee is an empowered Boudica and is strong in soliloquy, but she doesn’t offer enough intimidation or ferocity in a crowd.
With a large wooden wall that’s razed to the ground, Romans abseiling the Globe’s gallery, and heavy drumming music, Boudica is action-packed and full of ambitious battles. These are impressive, but they also act as a weakness: so epic in stature that it almost resembles an action film restrained to the stage.
Some bewildering choices are also made, including a baffling but rousing rendition of London Calling from Forbes Masson’s Cunobeline, which after no hint of anachronism in the first half takes place after the intermission. Also, a looming figure of the Iceni war goddess Andraste (Anna-Maria Nabirye) shadows Boudica, which works well, but at one time is adorned in a bizarre futuristic astronaut-like costume.
Nevertheless, Boudica works to rile up an audience. Visually striking and often arousing, it is an engaging and at times thoughtful imagining of this continuously influential and enigmatic icon.
|What||Boudica, Shakespeare's Globe review|
|Where||The Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London, SE1 9DT | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Blackfriars (underground)|
08 Sep 17 – 01 Oct 17, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM