My shiny little online spot to help y'all keep track of me while I galavant around London.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Let me just say this: Reading Shakespeare sucks -- well, it does when compared to seeing it peformed the way it should be. Forced high school readings and local community productions should be banned on pain of death for making Shakespeare difficult and boring, when it should be bloody (actually and figuratively) hilarious good fun.

Some context? Okay. On Friday, Peter, Garth and I trained it up to Stratford-Upon-Avon, the birthplace of the bard. It's a bit disneyfied, yes, but who gives a crap when it's also home to one of the finest theatre companies in the world who happen to be doing a complete works festival with some of the best actors in the world.

There's not much else to do in S-U-A aside from theatre, so we wandered aimlessly for a bit after checking into our B&B, having a pint (or I did, anyway) at the Black Swan/Dirty Duck pub.

And then, to the theatre, where we saw The Tempest starring Patrick Stewart. Not surprisingly, it was very good, as was Patrick Stewart. I thought of Natalie during his shirtless scenes... mmm... hot. And weird.

Set on a cold, ice-covered island instead of the usual tropical one, it looked amazing -- blockbuster films don't look this good -- especially the first bit where the boat sinks and the part where Ariel pops out of a dead whale's body all bloody and gooey with spikey wings ... tho I'm not sure that last bit was exactly how Shakespeare imagined it. (Amusingly, The Observer via google tells me that they were once and maybe still are planning a Tempest video game.)

The next day, after returning to London, we went to the recreation of the Globe theatre on the South Bank to see Titus Andronicus. Our (very cheap) tickets were for the standing room around the stage -- all very authentic. The play itself was surprisingly well done and very very funny. The story (read the summary on Wikipedia, it's hilarious) is very melodramatic and tragic, but the Globe production played it for black humour -- quite likely how it would have been played in Shakespeares day.

So the scenes of gore -- with blood spurting into the standing audience -- were very often played for laughs. Especially the bit where Titus' hand is chopped off. And in the final scenes, Titus is running around with a Chef's hat, laughing manically. Though nearly everyone dies in the finale, I couldn't stop laughing. It was all very funny, in a very black way -- but had I read play, rather than see it here, I'm not sure I would have laughed once.

Photos of S-U-A are here. Oh -- and regarding the title of this blog: There is a touristy thing in town called Shakesperience! And no, we didn't go.

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Blogger Will said...

The "pie" bit in Act V reminds me of this other work of genius. Check it.


Blogger Nicole said...

The pie scene -- man, I couldn't stop laughing. It shouldn't be funny, but the guy is so manic.



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