Sunday, 11 August 2013

The view from the Gentleman's Room: Macbeth, Shakespeare's The Globe

For our anniversary last year Hubby and I spent the weekend in Stratford Upon Avon. We stood on the steps of The Swan theatre and watched the river burst its banks. As we helped move sandbags to protect local businesses in The Bard's hometown Hubby mentioned that he'd like to see more Shakespeare... and seeing as he was a huge part of my English degree who was I to disagree!

So last night we headed off to The Globe. The recreation of the open-air theatre of Shakespearian England on the banks of the Thames. I'd got a seats in The Gentleman's Room (I'm all for a padded seat over a hard wooden bench!) and as we gazed out over the gathering crowds I explained to Hubby, just how the people standing for 2 and a half hours were much better behaved than the original Groundlings - no hawking your wears, or cavorting in sight, all eyes firmly trained on the stage. The play would be the focus, with nothing to distract from the passion, betrayal and madness of Macbeth. 

I was surprised how wrong I was.

Within moments of the first Act opening a gentleman sitting behind me lost his footing as he leant to get a better look at the stage, his cup slipped from his fingers, soaking me in a pint of larger... I figured sitting in a cloud of beer just added to the authentic experience.  But the distractions didn't end there...

I completely missed the royal Princes fleeing to from Scotland as I watched a lady empty her stomach all over the floor, and was finally coaxed off her bench and through the crowds by members of The Globe's team.  Then, moments later, one of the people in the standing area collapsed and the stewards dashed to their side barreling through other Groundlings out of the way with a wheelchair...

Maybe these distractions are to be expected in the notoriously unlucky Scottish Play - but the show must go on. The cast covered up the off-stage drama with absolute professionalism.  This was the first time I'd seen a live performance of Macbeth and although it is one of Shakespeare's darkest and most sinister of plays, this RSC version really makes the most of every possible comic moment. It's not all doom and gloom - there is light, shade,  texture...  with light touches of musuc, singing and dance the show really was something very different to the versions of Shakespeare that I had seen before.

I love a bit of Shakespeare,  but Hubby was totally mesmerised by his first experience.  A trip to The Globe is not just a night of great theatre,  its a completely different performance experience - and this season's Macbeth is one I thoroughly recommend.

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