Completed: Monday 31st July 2017
Visiting The Globe theatre is all about history and feeling cultured. It was originally built by Shakespeare’s gang ‘The Lord Chamberlain’s Men’ in 1599, standing at 11m high. It was destroyed by fire in 1613 and rebuilt a year later before being closed in 1642. The modern reconstruction known as Shakespeare’s Globe opened in 1997 just a few metres from where the original stood. Based on what is known of the first one, it is an open air stage – and performances happen whatever the weather, so patrons need to come prepared! One of the great things about it is the yard, which is the standing area in front of the stage. This is where all the peasants would have stood, and possibly thrown a tomato or two from. These standing tickets are now £5 so it makes for a very reasonable (if not tiring) night out.
The Globe now show a range of performances from Plan B’s one off gig to classic Shakespeare, and I felt I had to go with the latter to get the proper experience. I saw an evening performance of one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies ‘Twelfth Night’ with a friend. I’ve not seen many plays, and the only experience I have of Shakespeare is helping out backstage with the Year 6 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in my gap year.
If I’m honest, I sat (yes I made the most of sitting whilst I could) outside The Globe in the Groundlings queue thinking that booking tickets to stand still for 3 hours in an evening just after helping at a busy kids camp for a week may not have been the best idea. However, it turned out to be a great idea. I met my friend in the queue early enough to be in the first few to claim a spot in the standing space in front of the stage. We both had the same idea and instead of going for front row touching the stage we went for back row and being able to lean against the panels at the front of the seating blocks. Genius plan. Even though we couldn’t see every single thing that happened it was worth missing that 5% for the extra bit of space and back rest where we were. The first thing that struck me was actually how small it seemed inside compared to most modern theatres…but then in the 1600’s there were no clever sound systems only shouting loudly for everyone to hear, so it couldn’t have been much bigger. It was actually really nice to be in a smaller venue as the whole audience can feel part of it. The actors were fantastic and played up to the crowd constantly; there was an immediate relationship between the two that can only work so well in close proximity. We had come prepared with layers thinking that it would get very cold when in fact it was only after the interval I put a jumper on and that was fine for the rest of the evening. The large crowd helped, and in fact it got pretty warm and we welcomed the gentle breeze later on.
The play started on the SS Unity ‘In love we trust’ out at sea. Suddenly there is a shipwreck and twin brother and sister get separated. I’m not going to lie, by twenty minutes in I was baffled at what on earth was going on and just went along with it; there were many moments of the crowd laughing and I have no idea why, but I chuckled along with them anyway. The trouble was I had missed a key part (story of my life – I fell asleep at a crucial moment in Lord of the Rings too, but that’s for another day…) but that was soon resolved. Men and women were playing opposite gender roles but then when some characters disguise their identity and change genders it can all get quite confusing particularly with uncommon names. Immediately the interval started we unashamedly turned to Wikipedia to give us the lowdown on the storyline which I had got utterly lost following. However once we had matched the original to this modern adaptation (they still used the same names and rough script, just the staging, costumes and music would be unrecognisable to Shakespeare) we were on track and ready for the second half. It helped enormously that I now knew what was coming as the language can be hard to follow especially when it is being said quickly in a thick Scottish accent! The music was brilliantly performed by an extremely talented three piece band who accompanied the actors singing throughout. It was a mix of 70’s classics (Sister Sledge – We are family) and new songs written for the production which worked well.
There were definitely a couple of ‘odd’ moments that I still don’t quite understand…I say moments, but one was the fact that there seemed to be an extra character throughout who did a bit of narration, musical interlude, Whoppi Goldberg impersonation and glitter throwing at appropriate points. Very random. Having said that, the whole show was brilliant, and we had a great time. It is well worth a visit to The Globe and I’d definitely go back and see other plays (with Wikipedia in hand).
If music is the food of love, play on…
(Act 1, Scene 1, Line 1, Twelfth Night)
For more info on current shows, look here.
To see the full list of 30 things I’m doing, you can see the original post here.