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.
( *A long-winded description of the brick joke, for those who won't get to go see the play and for my own memoirs. )
ETA: Also I owe some of you RP related emails! You are not forgotten, I promise!