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What we’re reading: April 2017

The Globe’s artistic director, Dominic Dromgoole, on taking the Bard’s greatest play around the world

What we’re reading: April 2017
The Globe. Image: Getty

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To mark last year’s 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the artistic director of The Globe theatre, Dominic Dromgoole, decided to share his beloved playwright with the world. Virtually the entire world. And what better work to choose than the Bard’s best-known play, Hamlet? Of course, what with life tending to imitate art, some might say Dromgoole’s obsession with touring the world with a play about, er, an obsessed man’s descent into madness was tempting fate. But, when all the world’s a stage…

So, on 23 April 2014, 16 members of the Globe theatre set off on a two-year tour taking in 190 countries. There are trials — food poisoning in Mexico City almost wipes out the entire cast, a biblical-scale sandstorm in a refugee camp in Jordan — but perhaps the most compelling part of this story (recounted in gripping detail in this book) isn’t the hardships, but the way the play itself travels. You’d be forgiven for thinking a wordy 16th-century play about a Danish prince may not speak to a desert-dwelling Sudanese village, or that the plight of Ophelia wouldn’t move a contemporary Costa Rican. But it did, proving, as Dromgoole had hoped, that this powerful tragedy not only has the ability to transcend time but to cross borders as well. 

And for die-hard literary travellers, there are Hamlet quotes aplenty, reeled off with the assuredness of a man as at ease with the world of Tarantino as that of the Bard.

Hamlet: Globe to Globe. Taking Shakespeare to Every Country in the World, by Dominic Dromgoole. RRP: £16.99 (Canongate Books)

Wise words

Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition
Terror, the last of two 19th-century Franklin expedition ships buried in Arctic ice, was discovered last year. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Watson, who was on one of the ships that led the discovery, this is a fast-paced detective story. RRP: £20 (Norton)

Tragic Shores: A Memoir of Travel to the Darkest Places on Earth
Tom Cook’s search for sad sites leads to chance light. From Lourdes, to an Hawaiian leper colony, a deeper insight into human history emerges. RRP: £20 (Quercus)

Navigation: A Very Short Introduction
Jim Bennett’s book is an exploration of navigation, from Bronze Age mariners to today’s satellite-enabled sailors, with historic astrolabes and navigation charts to illuminate the route. RRP: £7.99 (OUP)

Get the guides

The World Tea Encyclopaedia
A compendium of teas written by Will Battle, a chap who’s lived and worked in plantations in Asia and Africa for some 20 years: a gloriously obsessive work that will help tea lovers navigate terminology and refine their tastes. RRP: £29.99 (Troubador)

Amazing Family Adventures
Fun days out and action-packed weekends away, from buggy-friendly short hikes to sea kayaking, woodland walks, mountain climbs and more, with National Trust venues to explore en route, whatever the weather. RRP: £12.99 (National Trust)

1500 Hotel Nights
‘Pure frustration’ was the motivation for this book, penned by Daniel Tabbush who spent four years living in hotels worldwide, and found their design flaws to be so myriad and mind-boggling that he saw fit to catalogue them. A black comedy of errors. RRP: £9.99 (Troubador)

Published in the May 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)