I have actually wanted to go to The Globe for quite a few years now and, for one reason or another, the opportunity never presented itself. So when I heard that they were staging The Tempest (one of my favourite Shakespeare plays) featuring Colin (my favourite actor) it was going to take the arrival of the four horsemen of the apocalypse to stop me from going. And they wouldn’t have found me an easy target either.
Because I am still quite overwhelmed by how much I loved this production, and because the delicious memories are still jumbled up in my brain, each trying to tumble out at once, I have to make a checklist of what pops in first and then cover them in turn:
• Tumbling and swinging
• Cute little dances
• Singing and chanting
• Funny moments
• Prop malfunctions
• Audience reaction
Firstly, I have to say that the entire cast was amazing. Quite often, I’ll see a play and always pick out one duff performance that bugs me. But with this one, for me, every single person was perfectly cast and gave the most beautiful performance. Neither can I adequately express how perfect The Globe is. I’ve been to RSC at Stratford and, even though I enjoyed my visit immensely, it felt quite elitist, in some ways, more reserved. It felt like somewhere I had to behave in. The Globe feels like I’m sure it would have been in Shakespeare’s day: welcoming, levelling and merry. It feels like a place where friends would have got together to be entertained and to have a laugh. There seems to be more of an ethos of Shakespeare being something for the masses to enjoy, rather than for people with English degrees. The atmosphere was fantastic and if you haven’t been and get the chance, you really must go.
So, what’s next? Oh yeah, tumbling and swinging! Colin, as Ariel, did a lot of that. He cartwheeled across the stage, hung from beneath stairs with one arm like a monkey, climbed up staging and walked on funny stilt things. It was pretty impressive. All that and he still managed to deliver his lines! And that was pretty impressive too. I wasn’t sure what to expect from him for Ariel. As you may know, it’s not the first time I’ve seen him on stage and the last role was very different from this. I’ve seen The Tempest performed before too and, if I’m honest, the last time I don’t recall Ariel being a character that had much of an impact on me. Colin made his Ariel a strange mix of childlike naivety, jester, powerful spirit, nimble nymph, camp flirt and cheeky monkey! There were moments where he was like a little lost boy: the point at which Ariel asks Prospero if he loves him drew a collective sigh from the audience that very likely could have been heard from the Mir space station. And there were moments where Ariel really showed his power, like when he appears as a vengeful harpy to pronounce judgment on Prospero’s enemies. You’ll be happy to learn that the reports of his singing are well founded too – he can actually sing and it’s rather lovely! One moment where he sings and almost breaks down crying – oh, my heart!
I loved the costumes. They were inventive whilst still keeping to the ethos of not being over-produced; I loved the kind of rustic-ness about them. Some of the actors came into the crowds during the performance and I loved seeing the costumes up close for that reason. It reminded me of school play costumes, but in a really good way. It all added to the feeling of a sort of social accessibility around the theatre itself. Eek, someone is going to comment now and tell me they cost millions to produce! The same can be said about the props. The iconic stage was barely dressed at all, so that most of the setting came from your imagination, but what was done was really clever. Caliban first emerges onto the stage from a hole beneath a rock and the shipwreck at the beginning is done by actors carrying a model ship through the crowd as though it was a heaving sea. There was one funny prop malfunction moment where Ariel had to tie a washing line up between two posts. The line was clearly stuck on something and wouldn’t stretch. He tried twice but it wouldn’t budge, so he tripped off the stage very professionally and the washing had to stay in the basket!
I’m just so happy that I got to see this performance but I think I need to go again!
One last bit, though I’m sure I’ve forgotten lots of things. I didn’t do the stage door waiting game. I have done before, but I figure it’s time I left the poor chap alone. And I had my 11 year old daughter with me – no young girl needs to see her mother behave like that…
If you fancy seeing The Tempest for yourself, here’s the link. Tickets start at £5, so what are you waiting for?