I knocked another off the Fuckit List this week. I’m on the social committee at work and as well as organising the two company days per year, we have an event each month that should be either cultural, sporting or fun. We try and alternate between each because as far as some are concerned culture and sports don’t always equal fun.
We decided that after a few months of curry nights, pub quizzes, a night at Hint Hunt and some 20-20 cricket, it was time for some culture.
The Globe runs a full programme from April to October and during the winter months features plays in the Sam Wannamaker Theatre which sits inside the body of The Globe.
Because it was a work event and budget is key, I booked the cheapest seats possible without us having to stand. These were £17 each, which for a night at the theatre in central London is frankly a steal. It was £15 to stand, which, if you’re desperate for a ticket on a certain date, 6 foot tall, and have good back and leg muscles is fine. Also worth noting, if you stand you need to be willing to get wet because the globe has no roof. Plays are only cancelled in the very, very worst weather, as evidenced by our visit on Wednesday night. Ponchos are available but umbrellas are forbidden for obvious reasons.
The Globe as we know it today stands just a few yards from the original site and was built thanks to the tireless efforts of American actor, director and producer Sam Wannamaker, who sadly died before the project was completed.
"Other than concessions to comply with modern day fire regulations such as additional exits, illuminated signage, fire retardant materials and some modern backstage machinery, the Globe is as accurate a reconstruction of the 1599 Globe as was possible with the available evidence"
It really gives an understanding of what theatre in the time of Shakespeare would have felt like, which translated to me as a much more intimate affair than that of modern day theatre. During our performance there was much entering and exiting through the audience and even some interaction, especially with those standing. It’s very relaxed, no Benedict Cumberpatch complaining about mobile phone use here. Interestingly enough though, I don’t think he would have needed too.
As You Like It is a comedy, and probably one of the lightest of Shakespeare’s plays, but that’s really why I chose it as we needed to cover a broad spectrum of tastes, and even familiarity. I personally think that it’s a pretty easy to understand play, even if you are struggling with some of the language you can still follow the plot.
The production was energetic from the off. I could try and explain the full plot, one of the best explanations is here, but the main idea is that Rosalind and her cousin Celia are exiled to the Forest of Arden where Rosalind disguises herself as a boy (for reasons of safety) and calls herself Ganymead (for reasons known only to her) and Celia takes the slightly easier route of changing her name to Aliena and posing as Rosalind/Ganymead’s sister. This has the fortunate side-effect of Rosalind being able to teach her sweetheart, Orland, how to woo a girl properly.
In the end everyone is reconciled/falls in love and live happily ever after.
Notable mentions go to Rosalind, played by Michelle Terry and Celia played by Ellie Piercy. Both parts were played with a delighted energy, each girl seemingly filling the stage with her presence when necessary. Rosalind was played with an edgy sarcasm, becoming giddy with her love for Orlando whilst retaining some cynicism - “Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love” . Celia initially is naïve, then more worldly. The story line is of course ridiculous, with characters falling in love within five minutes of knowing each other, but great fun nonetheless. There was even a touch of “hey nonny” singing with a surprisingly modern twist.
Touchstone, the jester and Jaques, the melancholy traveller a
re two sides of the same coin. Jacques in this production seemed to be channelling Eddie Izzard, and his “All the world’s a stage” speech was delivered with charm and enthusiasm. Touchstone was in turn argumentative and funny, but clearly one of the wisest of the characters, as is usually the way.
I absolutely loved this production and seeing at the Globe was fantastic. The seats weren’t the worst although you are definitely advised to check out the seating plan before you book. Also, the seats are wooden benches, and whilst you can hire cushions (for as little as £1) they have no back, and as someone said to me, it’s the only theatre he knows where the back row seats sell out before the front. We were in there for 3 hours and I managed to get to the last half an hour before I needed to fidget because of my back. And I would rather that than get soaked in the standing area like so many others did on Wednesday evening. I’m really looking forward to going again to see something different. The atmosphere of the Globe really made the play more involving, although I would try for better seats next time.
By the way, just in case you think we don’t mix it up, next month’s event is Guardians of the Galaxy at the open air cinema. Have to say I’m glad I’m on holiday for that one…