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In rehearsal: The Lightning Child

Published 4 September 2013

It’s not often you’d find an athlete whose gender was questioned, an American jazz singer and the Greek God of wine and fertility in the same production…

Yet in Shakespeare’s Globe’s upcoming The Lightning Child that’s exactly what happens, as South African middle distance champion Caster Semenya, US legend Billie Holiday and Dionysus sit side by side on the character list. Confused? No need to be, it’s set in London… or ancient Greece… and features internet porn, drug abuse and classical myth. And Neil Armstrong. Sorted.

All, I’m sure, will become clear when the Globe’s first ever musical, which features a score by Arthur Darvill – currently starring in Once on Broadway but best known as Doctor Who’s Rory – takes to the stage later this month to tell its tale based on Euripides’ tragedy of revelry, bloodlust and retribution The Bacchae.

Darvill, who previously worked with Walker on productions The Frontline and Been So Long, has used instruments from the steel drum to the Chinese erhu and even car parts to create the music for the groundbreaking production that, he says, is “a story you cannot tell without songs, which makes it rather unique as a musical”.

We’ll see just how unique when previews begin on 14 September. Until then, we can hope to shed a little light on the situation with Simon Kane’s images from the rehearsal room, which show us that there’s definitely dancing, that Walker, whose previous show The Frontline was a hit at the Globe in 2008 and 2009, is clearly enjoying rehearsals and that the show is so tiring the entire cast needs to lay down. Possibly.

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