adiva_calandia: (Are you -- Nobody -- Too?)
[personal profile] adiva_calandia
Whoa, I was farther behind on my reading list than I thought!

Hi! I'm still in London. The cold I had thought I'd staved off before leaving is trying to creep back in; I spent last night in that peculiar half-asleep-but-not-restful state I find myself in when I'm feverish, and I felt pretty punk all day today. And yet, we still managed to go to Whitehall, book a backstage tour at the National Theatre for tomorrow, and go on a river cruise to Greenwich where I straddled the prime meridian. I have been such a tourist this whole trip, with my map in hand and selfies in front of every landmark, and I don't even care. (Okay, I care a little.)

Biggest most exciting thing of the week thus far, though, was seeing The Comedy of Errors at the Globe. (This has been very much a Shakespeare/theatre trip, with the day in Stratford-Upon-Avon and the Globe and Whitehall today and hopefully Henry IV next week.)

I insisted I wanted to be a groundling -- why come to the Globe and pass up a chance to see a play from that close up? -- and in the hopes of improving my view I wore my high-heeled boots and queued an hour before the show. Which was, of course, still too late to get a spot right at the edge of the stage, but I was just behind the group of French students who were right at the edge of the stage. I was well within the splash zone (which was literal: one sequence involved Antipholus chasing Dromio around the stage with a fish, pulled from a bucket of water, and the Dromios in particular were pretty spitty). The heels may or may not have been a good idea; I think they did improve my view slightly, but oh god did my feet hurt by the end.

The production was fantastic. CoE isn't my favorite comedy, although I've always admired how skillfully the plot is put together -- you know, it's kind of contrived, it lacks the romance of a Much Ado, and it doesn't have the poetry of Midsummer or Twelfth Night. (This production did a nice job of highlighting some of Dromio's more democratic speeches, though, which I think are some of the most interesting parts of the play.)

But oh, man, did this production make up for the poetry with comedy. They played up the slapstick with enormous energy and skill, including the most perfect brick joke I have ever seen or hope to see onstage.* And seeing it from the ground was definitely worth the aching feet. It really was almost like being in the play -- it was much more active and intimate than sitting in a seat, even a close seat. You have to be a little more actively involved when you're standing; you can't be relaxed.

I'd be really interested to see what it's like being a groundling for a tragedy -- Julius Caesar is also running -- but I probably won't get a chance this trip. But it's okay. After a week here, I'm starting to think things like "You know, I could live here, maybe." I could see that.

Although it'd be nice if the exchange rate came down a little.

*So the play opened with two lines of laundry strung up from the stage's pillars to the roof. Dromio of Ephesus entered with a long pole with a hook, unhooked the lines from the pillars with no trouble, then went to the center of the stage and yanked them down -- leaving one lone shirt still hanging from the roof.

What followed that was a brilliant dumb routine where he tried to get the shirt with the pole, brought out a ladder and leaned it against a pillar and tried to climb the ladder with the pole, got up the ladder with the pole and tried to reach the shirt, considered using a rope to climb from the ladder to the shirt and decided not to, got out a different ladder to stand under the shirt and tried to climb it with the pole, tried to jump on the ladder and sent it sprawling, tried to step on the top rung of the ladder (to a huge gasp from the audience) and decided not to, and then was interrupted by the entrance of the musicians and the rest of the cast. We were all absolutely invested in him getting this shirt down.

The shirt stayed hanging there, and once or twice when he entered he looked up at it consideringly and then waved it away, annoyed. So come the second act, it was still there. In the second act there's a HUGE fight/slapstick scene with Dr. Pinch trying to bind Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus. Half the cast is onstage running around with staves and maracas and fish and ropes and glitter and a TNT box labeled AKMH (ACME in Greek) which, of course, eventually gets detonated accidentally. The TNT goes off -- everyone hits the floot -- one of the Greek columns in the back falls over, leaving the portico on top askew -- a moment of silence.

The shirt falls.

The audience goes NUTS, and then Dromio's hand pops up from the crowd on the floor, holding the shirt triumphantly, and we go MORE NUTS. It was perfect. It was transcendent. I can't remember the last time I laughed that hard. It was incredible.

ETA: Also I owe some of you RP related emails! You are not forgotten, I promise!
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