On Thursday I finally did something I’ve wanted to do since I moved down here – go see a play at The Globe in London. For those that don’t know it’s a re-construction of the 16th century theatre where Shakespeare actually wrote and acted.
I’m not sure that Romeo and Juliet would be my first choice of play to see but someone was organising a trip and I decided to join in. Besides it’s Shakespeare and I like Shakespeare.
I guess that there are two things to review here – the theatre ‘experience’ and the performance itself.
We went for the cheap tickets in the yard which was open to the elements but were lucky with the weather – I had prepared for rain so was pleasantly surprised we didn’t get any. I had braced myself for inclement weather and for standing for 3 hours, what I hadn’t prepared myself for was that for the first hour there was a plane going overhead every few minutes. It meant 10-15 seconds of struggling to hear the actors, who are not relying on their lungs and voices. I also was unfortunate to stand behind two of the tallest people there, so I was constantly shifting position as they did. The Globe website says that there’s no seat that doesn’t have a partially obscured view of at least part of the stage, but at least pillars don’t move. I think that, rather than comfort would make me want to pay for a seat next time.
The performance itself was excellent I thought. It was a very ‘straight’ version with the period costume and staging – which I’m told, despite the theatre, isn’t always the case. The leads were great, especially Adetomiwa Edun’s Romeo. Phillip Cumbus as Mercutio was good too, bringing out a side of that character I wasn’t aware of. I guess I’ve been influenced by the Baz Lurhmann film to think of Mercutio as quite a cool dude. Cumbus’ Mercutio was more comic, a bit of a windbag – but just a likeable and entertaining. Along with Fergal McElherron’s Peter he was responsible for bringing out the bawdy humour of the play. The later was also very good.
I had wondered whether the nature of the venue – both being outdoor and very close up – would lead to a problem with the audience being too noisy but that wasn’t the case. There were a few who ignored the no cameras rule and I heard at least one mobile phone on a very loud vibrate setting but generally the audience was more respectful that I’ve seen say in the cinema recently. There was a good-natured feeling of wanting to laugh that made the humour work better than it perhaps deserved at times, but when Juliet ‘died’ there was a hush in the place I hadn’t expected.
Overall it was a very enjoyable performance. It made me want to go see more Shakespeare – though perhaps indoors next time.
8/10 for the play.
6/10 for the ‘experience’