Good morning, lovely reader! Got any nice plans for your weekend? I know for a fact that there are barbecues happening in London over the next couple of days. Loving that weather-based optimism.
When I was writing this post I nearly called it “Real British Theatre”, but I disregarded that title for two reasons: firstly, it smacks somewhat of Nigel sodding Farage (and I have many faults, but voting for UKIP is definitely not one of them), and secondly it reminded me a little too forcefully of a university module I think I did, which was called something similar and was about theatre in the nineteenth century. Maybe. I think. I don’t know, it was a very long time ago, and I wasn’t paying attention…
Yesterday I went to the Globe with one of my best buddies to see the play which, time-travel allowing, I’m pretty sure is Shakespeare’s homage to Tarantino: Titus Andronicus. It was bloody, disturbing and impossible to stop watching. It also had my absolute favourite characteristic of theatre: dark comedy. It was funny at odd moments, it lightened the more blood-stained and grotesque scenes with a bit of whimsy, but most worryingly of of all, the actual subject matter and the characters’ situations made us laugh. They also made us wince in disgust, groan in surprised nausea and sharply peg it out of the way when the actors were running around in the audience.
The actors had two metal towers on wheels to propel themselves around the groundling pit, and they used them spectacularly. It still amazes me that something so un-British – barging through crowds of people, for heaven’s sake, and actually shouting at them to move, how very rude, I shall write to The Times – is such an integral part of the audience’s experience at the Globe. The Globe is a beacon of British history and culture, and it attracts people from all over the – well, the globe, I suppose. Ahem.
The un-British barging in a very British theatre is important, because it makes the story so immediate for the spectators (which is, after all, why they went to the Globe in the first place). It made us feel genuinely at risk from the seething anger, the all-too-real swords and the fake blood being sprayed everywhere. It was amazing.
The best things about this country are way beyond what politicians have to say about immigration or the Europe issue. The best things about this country are the things that people gave us hundreds of years ago, and that we still enjoy today. This country is about Winston Churchill’s determination, Charles Darwin’s curiosity and William Shakespeare’s imagination.
This country is about standing in the middle of an open air theatre and feeling things that audiences have felt about the same story for four hundred and twenty years. That’s called a communal experience by the way, Mr. Farage, and the whole flipping point of it is that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from.
Have an amazing Saturday. (Not you, UKIP.)