As You Like It this afternoon at The Globe. There's lots of reviews on the site linked to above. They're all true. What else can I say? It was uproariously funny. It was witty and erudite and sexy. It had the most preposterous plot, but still managed the trick of suspension of disbelief, perhaps in part because the theatre itself and the audience were part of the make believe. It was utterly, utterly brilliant.
The Globe is a modern reproduction of Shakespeare's original 16th Century theatre. People are seated in three tiers and the floor in front of the stage is filled with the groundlings: 700 people (today including Clemency and me) who have paid 5 pounds to stand there. We lean on the stage or on the surrounding woodwork. We shift out of the way when the action spills into the area around us. The actors make their exits and entrances by pushing through us or appearing suddenly in our midst. The largely voluntary staff move around, dishing our sunhats, and making sure we don't get in the way. Around us this very new building towers up and for the first time ever, after three years of studying English at university, and seeing these plays many times, I get it. Isn't it an odd thing? Stratford On Avon tries hard to be a 16th Century town and only succeeds in making itself look like a bad 21st Century filmset. The Globe makes no apologies for being a modern theatre in the style of, and it transports me back to the fifteen hundreds. I know that if I lived in London I wouldn't be missing a single play at this theatre. I might even sometimes pay a premium for a seat, but I don't think any of the flash seat sitters had as much fun as us plebs on the floor. If you're planning on visitng London, this is the best 5 pounds you could ever possibly spend.
PS. It's our last day in England tomorrow. Then we pack and lug our preposterously large suitcases to Hethrow at 6:30 on Sunday morning for a flight to San Francisco. I'll be back in The Greenstone Waters late on Friday, New Zealand time. I won't have a computer, and don't think I will bother with internet cafes so it'll be radio silence in the coming week, I'm afraid, folks.