I've already seen three different productions of Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors
, but our Shakespeare teacher recommended we see it instead of Titus Andronicus
(which has apparently caused several audience members to faint due to
the extreme bloodshed on stage). I almost didn't go to this show today,
thinking I could see it any time, only to discover that the season
currently playing at the Globe CLOSES this weekend. So I called early
in the morning, grabbed a ticket, and went this afternoon with Janette
and Nikki, who are both also Americans studying drama here. I
definitely don't have any British friends yet, which is a shame.
Anyway, if you haven't been to the Globe, or don't know anything about
Shakespeare plays, it's an open air theater.
Covered seats for people who have money
Sort of. There are walls,
but no ceiling. So the fact that it was raining all day today was not a
good thing for us. In addition to the rain and the no-ceiling factor,
since we don't have a lot of money (and "for the experience," we
claimed), we bought "groundling" tickets, which means we get to be
really close to the front of the stage, but we have to stand for the
whole show, like the groundlings did back in the day. It was only £5
for these tickets, so at the time I didn't really care about having to
stand. I mean, when you go to a concert you end up standing for a few
hours in the same spot, shoved up against a bunch of other people, so
it can't be that bad. Oh, silly me. It was so freaking cold, and they
wouldn't let us have our umbrellas opened, so we had to buy these £2
poncho-thingys so we wouldn't be completely soaked.
Us being groundlings. I look so excited!!!
They were basically
giant plastic bags. On the bright side, this did produce an amusing
scene with me trying to eat the PB&J sandwich I'd brought for
myself (again, no money) under and/or through this gob of plastic. This
was also an "interesting" day to come because there were at least four
different groups of elementary/really immature high school kids that
had been brought to see the show that day on a field trip. They did,
however, help cultivate the obnoxious atmosphere of what it might have
been like to be hanging out in the groundlings' section before a show.
Anywho, I was complaining an awful lot until the show started, and then
I was able to forget about how cold I was for a while. They had
musicians who started the show, and played little interludes of music
throughout the performance.
The top of the set... it's like the ceiling covering-ness... the actors had protection against the rain too.
It was really great to be close up because
you could see the set, costumes, and make-up really well. The acting
was mostly good... I really liked the four guys who played the two sets
of twins. It was great to see this in conjunction with my Shakespeare
class here, because I got to see what my "tutor" was saying about
Shakespeare being a STYLE of acting, with particular rules that may not
apply elsewhere, and also rules that apply elsewhere, but not here...
maybe it was just because I was seeing a comedy, but they seemed to be
allowed to ignore many things that are taboo in realism... Anywho, they
were amusing, the language was very professionally catered to and
executed, and I really enjoyed watching it even though I'd seen it a
billion times. My absolute FAVORITE part, however, was when the
Antipholus and Dromio from Syracuse are talking about the fat lady in
the kitchen who fancies Dromio (the other Dromio, of course, etc etc
etc), and he was referring to the fact that her body is big and round
like a globe.
The set in a regular-type view from where I was watching the show.
He then goes into a short monologue about finding
different countries on her body... explaining, wittily, where France
is, where Ireland is, where England is, etc. BUT, then, in groundling
fashion, a guy somewhere behind me yells, "SPAIN!" Now, you have to
take into account three things here: 1) there is NO line about Spain in
the play, 2) as far as I've heard, it's inappropriate to improv
Shakespeare because of all of the iambic pentameter, and the poetry of
the line, and the fact that everyone knows the lines to these plays,
and 3) that EVERYONE in the whole theater totally heard this guy yell
"Spain," in a way that was very difficult to ignore. SO, the guy
playing Antipholus stands there, frozen, and starts LAUGHING on stage!
I can tell he's having a hell of a time trying to decide whether to
bring up Spain in the dialogue, or to continue on as planned. Finally,
he says to Dromio, "Yes, and what about Spain?"So then the guy playing
Dromio has this look of "Oh, go to hell" on his face, because now he
has to make up something Shakespeare-sounding to answer the question.
Both of them, at this point, are probably very afraid that they
shouldn't even be doing this. However, the audience is getting SUCH a
kick out of it. So Dromio finally says, "Well, I didn't see Spain."
Then he adds, "But I felt it!" And everyone went crazy laughing. It was
great fun. I was very happy I got to go, even though we had to stand
out in the rain for 2 1/2 hours. Then I spent £2 ($4) on two pieces of
garlic bread in some sort of famous pub (The Anchor, I think? possibly
used as Shakespeare's dressing room?) down the street, and then we took
the tube home and I put on warm, dry sweatpants. Hooray!