13 September 2014

The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare's Globe

It finally rolled around. Having booked it months in advance, when the tickets get released at the beginning of the season, Mum and I were off to see our second play at The Globe in as many years having fallen in love with A Midsummer's Night's Dream.

One of Shakespeare's earliest, The Comedy of Errors is one of his shortest and most humorous plays. What's it about? 
Take one pair of estranged twin brothers (both called Antipholus), and one pair of estranged twin servants (both called Dromio), keep them in ignorance of each other and throw them into a city with a reputation for sorcery, and you have all the ingredients for theatrical chaos. One Antipholus is astonished by his foreign hospitality; the other enraged by the hostility of his hometown. The Dromios, caught between the two, are soundly beaten for obeying all the wrong orders. Basing his plot on a face by Plautus, Shakespeare caps the mayhem of his Roman original to build up a hectic tale of violent cross-purposes, furious slapstick and social nightmare.
I'll be the first to admit, I'm not a huge fan of slapstick comedy. Throwing custard pies and sticking a leg out? No thanks. But right from the off of this play, I was hooked.
A glorious cast jest their way through a script that is simultaneously elegant and naughty. Complaints of Shakespeare being difficult to follow could be completely assuaged by seeing this play - the words were brought to life with such beauty that it inspired me to pick up my languishing copy of his Works. The joy of Shakespeare is that despite the somewhat antiquated language, the jokes and the passion still shine through and they're just as easy to find funny - the entire audience were in complete hysterics with some well-timed japes (and of course, a ridiculous scene involving a rubber octopus) and there was a brilliant nod to both Hamlet and Harry Potter in one understated scene.

Being able to see a play that's been performed for almost 400 years today is such a privilege, and The Globe is one of the most accessible theatres in London. Standing tickets (groundlings) are as little as £5 so you can simply wander in to watch that day or book in advance and snap up seats for a bit more - we go for what we call the best in the house - H5 and H6 on the Upper Gallery for pure, interrupted viewing.

We've vowed to go once every season so I can't wait 'til April when the next run of shows gets released. Who knows, maybe they'll do a classic Romeo & Juliet? Here's hoping.

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