I did it! Finally! After almost three years spent in London and many times talking about it and makings plans I finally saw a play at the Shakespeare’s Globe. And not any play! In fact yesterday after work I went to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream – one of my favourites! 😀
I can’t describe how happy I am that I went. It was a little tricky at first, as initially it seemed that I wouldn’t find anyone willing to accompany me and then it appeared that it completely sold out – but one ticket left on Thursday night!
I have never been to the theater all by myself before, so it was a whole new experience. I usually regard going to the theatre as something “share-able”. I like watching a show with someone next to me, sharing the experience, someone I can poke with my elbow in crucial moments and afterwards discuss the staging, costumes and acting with.
But I have to say, being all by myself wasn’t as bad as expected. It allowed me to completely focus on the play and absorb the atmosphere in the venue. I would have loved to share the feeling, but eventually it’s something I wanted to do – and I did.
I had an amazing view, standing just a couple of meters away from the stage and two small screens left and right of the stage, captioning the play assured that everyone could follow the Shakespearian language.
As you might know, the Globe is an open air venue. Only the balconies are covered by a narrow roof, the “groundlings” (people with standing tickets in the yard – like me) are at mercy of the elements.
Let me just say that I was really lucky. It was literally raining all week long and my hopes weren’t too high, but it turned out to be cloudy yet dry all day long yesterday and just in time for the play to start, the clouds opened and made way for a beautiful sunset! It was a dry and clear night up until the part where the “rude mechanicals” start to perform Pyramus and Thisbe, when it started to slightly drizzle.
Ok, and now for the important part: the staging. It was simply amazing!
Firstly, the play wasn’t technically set in Athens and the surrounding forest, but the words were changed for Bankside, Hoxton and St. Paul’s forest. A small, but very nice twist – especially when Puck declares “Through the forest have I gone, but Hoxoton hipster found I none.”
The most significant change was that instead of Helena, the beautiful Helenus was fighing for the love of Demitrius. How great is that? It added another layer to the sexual and love confusion as the overall topic of the play and even opened the question why Demitrius changes his mind and persues Hermia – for money? or denial? Because the spectator knows that he was “was lying” with Helenus before.
Whereas all humans wore modern, yet exaggerated clothes, the fairies had absolutely astounding costumes: Elizabethan fashion such as ruffs, corsets and petticoats, paired with Indian tunics, necklaces, face paintings and some modern pieces, creating a colourful, vibrant and almost tribe-like mix. Gorgeous!
The stage design was minimalistic but effective. Orange flower curtains decorated the back of the stage and the balcony above it. Big white balloons and green fabric tubes were floating above the auditorium, extending the space of the play into the yard and distorting it into something mystical, whimsical, “a place where magic could happen”. Further big white tables served as stepping stones for the actors all through the yard, allowing them to jump, dance, interact and enter and exit through the audience. Especially Puck made use of that a lot and flirted with whomever she set eyes on.
Many long monologues had been adapted as songs, so now Lysander was singing a love ballad to Hermia when they enter the forest and Puck and Oberon were falling into a edgy chanting when plotting to bewitch Titania. I think that’s absolutely brilliant! Like this you keep all the “original text” but avoid long and dull monologues that deliver no new information to the audience. The songs were accompanied musically by a small band, sitting on the balcony above the stage, consisting of bass, keyboard, drums and an electric sitar.
Alright, that should do it. I guess I made my point quite clear, which is that I absolutely enjoyed every single minute of the spectacle unfolding in front of my eyes! Needless to say, that I was flying home on colouful fairy wings, eager to share with everyone how amazing it was to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Globe.
So good night unto you all.
Give me your hands if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.