Jenny and Rob were in London last weekend and were kind enough to stop by my place to say hello and spend a bit of time with me exploring London. We managed to pack quite a bit into only a couple of days, but the highlight for me was definitely catching a show (an utterly fantastic production of The Merchant of Venice) at Shakespeare's Globe theatre on Southbank.
For those of you not familiar with the Globe, it's a fairly authentic recreation of the theatre in which Shakespeare used to put on his productions some 400 odd years ago. It's got a great atmosphere, because the seats go straight up, rather than on an angle, which means the whole crowd stays close to the action. And for the punters without much cash, there are £5 standing tickets, where you get to watch the play from the Shakespearian equivalent of a mosh pit.
We'd actually been hoping to get some cheap seats, but they were all sold out, so we went with the standing option, which turned out to be a brilliant choice. The standing crowd gets right up close to the action - you can even lean on the stage if you like (though you need to watch out for actors randomly vomiting off the stage during certain scenes). Being so close to the actors really gets you involved in the play and engages you in an entirely different way.
The play itself is of course a work of genius. Despite the blatant anti-semitism in parts, which is pretty confronting to a modern audience, the themes of love, trust and revenge that run through the play have enduring relevance. I've got to admit that I haven't always been a big Shakespeare fan - mostly because I'm not sharp enough to take in all the dialogue at the speed at which it's delivered. I mean, I did study The Tempest and Hamlet at school, but I didn't ever feel like I got a good handle on them. Even with this play, I got lost in parts, but the acting was good enough to carry me along anyway and even when the words were lost on me, the drama of the events unfolding on stage was not.
As you'll have gathered by now, this is not so much a blog posting as an excited rant about how great the Globe is, so I'll end it here and put you out of your misery. But next time you get a chance, I highly recommend that you get along to the theatre and check it out for yourself. You won't regret it.