Saturday, September 4, 2010

All The World's A Stage: Shakespeare's Globe

Shakespeare's Globe and I don't have a great history together.

Last time I went, well ... I fainted.

Looking back, a belly full of fish and chips on a hot summer's day probably wasn't the best idea as I found myself clutching Chloe halfway through the first act of King Lear, swaying and whispering that I was about to keel over.

Now, the great thing about keeling over at the Globe is that it happens a lot (three other people went down like trees in a forest after my little incident), which means that the staff is well prepared.  See, these really nice grey-haired ladies who could (and you'd very well want to) be your grandma, usher you out by the crook of your arm and say, "There, there, dear, you just take a seat here and we'll get you sorted."  They then lead you to a little room in the back of the theater equipped with a few cots and lots of pillows, prop your legs up above your heart and offer you a cool drink and cold compress for your forehead until you're better.  I kind of didn't want to leave.

Even King Lear himself came backstage to ask how I was feeling, booming: "Don't miss the second half - it's really good."  I smiled wanly from my horizontal position, wondering if he was merely a hallucinatory product of my overheated state or if he was truly standing in front of me (I'm pretty sure he was real, because Chloe then said reassuringly, "King Lear wants you to get better!").

Despite his encouragement however, I did miss the second half.  Like a coward, I slunk across the Millennium Bridge with an excruciating headache and hailed the next bus, never to return, out of sheer embarrassment ...

... until last Thursday,  when John and I saw "The Comedy of Errors" during an evening performance after work.  Having had a weird cold/flu-like virus that week, I wasn't in the best of moods to enjoy a bit of windy evening Shakespeare, but thankfully the fact that we had seats this time helped immensely - and I'm so glad we did, as I was able to fully enjoy and appreciate the Globe experience.  Tom Mothersdale gave a truly energetic and ingenious performance as Antipholus, as did Fergal McElherron, who played Antipholus' servant/sidekick, Dromio.  Together, the duo created an impeccable comic dynamic, with commendable performances by the other cast members as well.

I'm continually awed by the productions of Shakespeare I've seen across England - from the Curve in Leicester to Southwark Playhouse to the Globe.  Never have I seen such innovation, spirit and commitment in performances and I have a particular interest in the set and costume design, which never cease to enthrall me (for obvious reasons, as I'm slightly obsessed with clothes - the costumes featured in As You Like It at the Curve last year featured a splendid intersection of All Saints chic and shimmering saris - I don't think I stopped babbling about it for at least an hour afterward).

If you're able to catch a play at the Globe near the end of the season this year, I strongly urge you to do so before the weather turns too terrible; otherwise there's always next year.  And oh yeah, maybe skip the fish and chips beforehand.


  1. you are such an engaging writer!

  2. I love the fact King Lear came to ask how you were. If it makes you feel better, I fainted on HMS Victory when I was a kid, ruining the rest of the family weekend!

  3. Oh dear, Andrew - I think you and I have similar constitutions! We're a pair of sicklys ...


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