For my birthday, I had (a while back now) treated myself to tickets of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, being performed at the Globe Theatre, on the South Bank here in London. As most of you are aware, I am a huge Shakespeare fan, and try to see his plays whenever possible.
The Globe Theatre is a faithful reproduction of the original Globe Theatre that was built while Shakespeare was writing his plays in the 1600s. They’ve done a fantastic job of re-creating the theatre, to the best of their knowledge, using original materials and building processes, on almost the exact spot where the original theatre stood.
I’ve been dying to see a production here, since my first trip to London back in 2001, but I’ve never been around while the theatre season was on. One of the first things I did when I got to London this time was to order tickets – and my birthday seemed like a good excuse.
I ended up going with my friend/coworker John, from Vancouver. He was in town this week, and it seemed like a good plan. We showed up about 15 minutes before show time, which gave me a bit of time to check out the theatre. It’s a great building – half timbered, with a thatched roof (apparently the only thatch roof in London, since the Great Fire). As with the original theatre, most of the seats in the theatre, down by the stage are standing only – known at the time as “groundlings” – and tended to be the cheap seats, where the lower classes stood to watch plays. My knees are not up to standing (although the experience would have been cool), so we sat up in the seats, where the “Lords and Ladies” would sit. The view was great, if a bit cramped. I wish they hadn’t been so accurate in their reproduction, and had given a bit more leg room.
The play itself was excellent – it’s a very funny, physical play, and the actors did a great job with the material. As with many Shakespeare productions, the sets were minimal, the costumes excellent, but the most important thing is the words, and the actors’ delivery. All of which were excellent. It was a fantastic way to spend my birthday.