The thing I love best about the Globe Theatre is the way the people who work there smile all the time. They are courteous and helpful with the endless tourists, they explain the quirky seating patiently, they all watch the plays, peeping from behind the scenery and, best of all, they seem to be having the most brilliant time ever. It’s the best possible advert for the works of a long-dead playwright that most of us consider quite hard going. The result is that the atmosphere is fantastic. Everyone – audience and ushers alike – looks as though a three hour stint outdoors in the uncertain weather of a British summer, listening to blank verse in iambic pentameters, is what they have always longed to do.
We went to see The Tempest on Saturday night and the threatening, blustery skies added an extra frisson to the action, though fortunately for the groundlings, standing in the yard in front of the stage, the heavens never opened. I’m afraid I’d gone soft and booked us seats in one of the galleries, and had even hired cushions at a pound each. Mind you, the wooden benches seem to be made to the original Elizabethan pattern, so were not particularly commodious for those amongst us with more, *ahem* modern proportions. But being squashed up just kept us nice and warm.
It was a wonderful performance – the girls were pretty much entranced by Colin Morgan from Merlin as Ariel, in a top cunningly combining feathers and a six-pack, while I thought Roger Allam as Prospero was rather fab. Thrillingly, Colin waved to us at the curtain call. It could have been something to do with the very loud whooping coming from our direction.
Child One could see the Shard from where she sat, and when we went downstairs in the interval, I spotted the London Eye through the (glassless) window. But, though we were in the centre of the city, when the actors were speaking, there was the illusion of total silence all around us. Lovely, to feel that stillness and attention of so many people.
The girls thought Shakespeare would have loved the recreation of the Globe. I’m sure he would have appreciated Sam Wanamaker’s heroic project, but I think he would have been rather seduced by the idea of a completely high-tech, ultra-modern theatre in which to show off his genius. It doesn’t matter who was right – as he said himself, all the world’s a stage, but the play’s the thing 🙂