Saturday, June 26, 2004

Romeo Oh Romeo!

By way of further celebration, and as a treat for Judith, we went up to London today on the train to see Romeo & Juliet performed in The Globe Theatre on the South Bank.

We walked across the Millenium Bridge from the north side, along with crowds of tourists, whose children, without exception, scuffed their sneakers on the ridged metal decking to revel in the unusual noise it makes.

The South Bank itself was also very busy, and we did well to get into the Globe Cafe Restaurant for a quick lunch before the play started. In fact, Judith managed to convey such a sense of urgency to the man who was serving us that, although he assured us that there would be no problem with getting us through in plenty of time, we were given express service! He twinkled and teased every time he came near the table, and we were in and out within 20 minutes maximum.

The kids had tickets for the floor of the theatre, standing (in the drizzle) in front of the stage with the groundlings. Judith and I had seats in the back row (of 4) on the middle gallery level, slightly to the left of the stage. It was a fantastic view, and the theatre, though large, feels incredibly intimate.

Luckily the drizzle stayed light, so although the groundlings adjusted their dress from time to time, depending upon it's intensity, they stayed largely comfortable. The playing was very good, and we've never seen Romeo and Juliet played for as many laughs, all as written. In fact, the only negative was that the performance happened to coincide with the Olmpic Flame being carried through London, which meant many helicopters flying in close circuits following the flag, which must have made it's way across the Millenium Bridge, judging by the proximity. This meant that for a significant part of the performance, the actors were having to compete with the varying rythmic beats and resonance of helicopters, which rather defeated the more quiet and reflective passages.

The production was in "original pronunciation", an attempt by the Master of Plays to interpret what English as she was spoke would have sounded like at the time. In practice, this interpretation appeared to be a mixture of Irish and West Country, with the occassional West Indian thrown in. It was all backed by worthy research and academic comment in the accompanying leaflet, but the initial effect was rather disconcerting. However, after a while one got used to it, and it seemed to work reasonably well.

Anyway, a good day was had, Judith bought some stuff (for teaching purposes!) from the shop, and we were home in time for fish and chips from the chippie!


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