Updated Globe a different world

After being cocooned in scaffolding for the past 11 months, while extensive repair work went on inside and out, the Globe Theatre is finally set to re-emerge.

Excitement is high among Friends of the Globe Theatre (FOTGT), which runs the London St theatre, as they count down to next Thursday’s opening night of the first on›site play in 18 months — Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

After a major fundraising effort in 2014 to reach a $550,000 target, FOTGT contracted Amalgamated Building Ltd to undertake repairs and redevelopment.
Work began in late April last year.

FOTGT chairwoman Dr Rosemary Beresford said the work had originally been set for completion in October, but the decision to go ahead with construction of an accessible toilet block had extended the work. ‘‘It has meant the project has taken a bit longer, but it is going to be absolutely wonderful,’’ Dr Beresford said. ‘‘It will make a huge difference for both our audience and cast. There will be so much more space.’’

The construction had created some additional challenges for director Brian Beresford and the cast of The Importance of Being Earnest, but it would all be worth it in the end, she said.

The construction work had included repairing the leaking theatre roof, earthquake strengthening of walls and under the stage floor, building a wooden boardwalk along the front of the theatre, repairing bay windows, installing insulation, and creating a new theatre entrance.

Committee members have installed new carpet, hung curtains, painted the auditorium, ceiling and foyer, and sorted costumes.

‘‘The result may not be all that visible to most people, but those that are familiar with the theatre will recognise the difference,’’ Dr Beresford said. ‘‘It is looking wonderful.’’

One immediate difference was the much improved air quality inside the theatre. ‘‘It already feels warmer and drier, and that slightly damp smell is gone.’’

A formal opening event was yet to be scheduled, as there was still a lot of work to be done, particularly in the theatre garden, Dr Beresford said.

‘‘We are going to need some working bees to get the garden back into shape.’’