“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts.” – As You Like It, Act II Scene VII, Shakespeare.
Funny, isn’t it? The way Shakespeare seems to understand all manners of the human condition. If you were to pick up all 30-thousand-what’s-its of his plays and sonnets, you would have enough quotes to sum up life itself.
There will be a quote for any situation.
You see, the thing about Shakespeare is that he seems to understand pure, raw, human emotions which many struggle to put into word. Especially words as beautiful, genius and poetic as Shakespeare’s creations.
When people think of Shakespeare they now tend to quake in fear of watching and reading his works because they’re not modern London English. They hide out of fear of iambic pentameter and strange bits of imagery and nonsensical rhyming couplets. It is in my opinion that Shakespeare actually isn’t as difficult to understand as others may perceive.
Sure, it can sometimes take longer than deciphering hieroglyphics found on an Ancient Egyptian pyramid, but there are plenty of Rosetta Stone’s out there to help you translate his cryptic meanings. The beautiful thing about Shakespeare is the meanings behind his work – some of which are obviously spelt out more obviously than others.
Basically, he gets people.He understands – death, unrequited love, true love, pain of loss, corruption, evil, the darkest edges of the human soul and mind, lust, age and (of course) the many parts a man must play in one lifetime.
The Globe also offers a different experience of theatre. Don’t get me wrong, any theatre will do really, go watch Shakespeare anywhere that you like. I, however, will be standing in the harsh wind and rain or the cool night air under the dancing starlight whilst actors and musicians create the most beautiful scenes imaginings on a wooden stage, in a theatre with a hole in the roof. The magic is real and it is the actors and the directors and all the cast and crew that make the magic possible. They are the fairies behind the scenes sprinkling their magic dust and mischief to give a human man a donkey’s head or a fairy queen an awe-striking entrance via a door on the stages ceiling.
I have been to the Globe on three previous occasions. My first time was to watch my favourite Shakespeare play – A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Not going to lie, that was probably a good six years ago-ish, so I don’t remember much of that particular production. However, 2016 has been home to the momentous occasion 400 years of Shakespeare. This lead to an adaptation of Midsummer by one of my favourite television screenwriters and producers – Russell T. Davies. I – L-O-V-E-D IT! Do I need to spell it out anymore clearly? Matt Lucas as Bottom, Maxine Peake as Titania and John Hannah as Theseus. Perfection! And what a Theseus! I think a lot of people do tend to forget that Theseus is actually a dictator, and a ruthless one at that, taking Hippolyta as a spoil of war.
But now I am at a conundrum, for only two fortnights ago I stumbled upon Emma Rice’s Indian-vamped, more modern twist on the play. I don’t know which I loved more. Although, I have to admit that Katy Owen’s Puck was much more entertaining than Hiran Abeysekera’s take on the character. Yet again, the ending to Davies’ adaptation I thought to be more exciting, jolly and warming to the heart – especially with Puck’s ending soliloquy. On the other hand, Rice’s view on the relationship between Helena and Demetrius is rather genius, and I’m so glad of her decision to makes Helena into Helenus, giving the play a whole new perspective. This also created a far more humorous set of arguments and situations.
My second encounter with the Globe happened to be one year later for Romeo and Juliet. Very happily, I happened to be sitting in the gentlemen’s box with a great view off the stage. And thank God because it started to drizzle and it was windy so at least I was covered and sitting rather than standing for about three hours. Yes, I thought it was a rather good adaptation. Yet, I have not been able to find one that I feel brings the play the justice Shakespeare intended.
In my latest adventure (earlier this year) in the Globe I watched Twelfth Night, and may I just say – Bravo! Bill Buckhurst, I thank thee. Now that is what I call a good old fashioned rom-com. And Akiya Henry outdid herself in her lively and exhilirating portrayal of a love-smitten Olivia. I believe this to rival Helena Bonham Carter’s portrayal of the character in Trevor Nunn’s 1996 film adaptation. Though I love Helena, I just thought her a little too gloomy at certain parts which I thought took the play’s ambiance away from a rom-com.
Finally, what else can I say? Shakespeare is life.
“If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V Scene II, William Shakespeare.