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Friday, 17 May 2013

'The Tempest'

One of my favourite things about living in London is how many touristy things I can do and see without even trying. They're just thrown in as I go about my day. I feel superior to tourists in a lot of ways (I'm a dick, no, really I am) but never so much as when I rush past them on Oxford Street, or on the tube, and they're all kitted out in hiking gear (seriously - what is it with that? Always with the walking boots and the rucksacks and the waterproof jackets) poring over the map and working out what to do next. And I think:

'Haha! You came such a long way to get here and see these things. You paid hundreds of dollars and sat in a metal tube full of recycled air for ten hours and I just live here. I'm just on my way to see some friends - I'm barely even trying'

Told you I was a dick.

It reminds me of one time in Capri when I was with my friend Katy. We were struggling to get some suitcases up the steps in the main square and nobody was helping us. Then a lovely guy came up and took both our suitcases for us. He put them down at the top, we thanked him, and he asked where we were from.

'London' I said.
'Oh!' he smiled, 'Great!'
'Yeah. How about you?'
'Oh, right...' we said. There was an awkward pause.
'Yeah, I know' he said. Then he left.

Anyway, on Wednesday evening I went from Tottenham Court Road, to St Paul's, over Southwark Bridge, past The Shard (hiya), to Shakespeare's Globe, and then back home via Southwark Cathedral, the Cutty Sark and Borough Market. Not bad.

Our old friend The Shard

Because I am cheap, for my brother's birthday I had bought him and his girlfriend £5 standing tickets to see 'The Tempest' at The Globe. At the last moment I had a fit of conscience, and of hunger, and offered to take them out for a meal beforehand (with a Tastecard, obviously, I'm not made of money). Anna has just got back from three months in Italy working in immigration, and has a lot of interesting knowledge about refugee camps and the Mafia, so naturally we had a really in depth conversation about goat's cheese. Mm.

So, the thing about The Globe is that it's excellent. We arrived in good time, meeting my flatmate George there, but weren't too near the front (luckily...) They have lovely stewards, mostly retired people, who are friendly and good at checking tickets... not so good at taking photos on an Iphone (before this photo the steward took about 4 pictures of her own face, which was hilarious. I'd put them up but that would be a bit harsh - she's probably someone's gran).


The play itself was really really great. 'The Tempest' isn't my favourite Shakespeare play. I'd only ever read it, not seen it performed, and had mentally filed it just one category away from my own personal classification of Shakespeare plays, 'Dicking Around In Forests' (c.f. 'As You Like It', 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', etc). I much prefer the History plays, and the Revenge Tragedies... more drama. Anyway. It was fantastic. The Globe was such a perfect space for it - there was music which came from up in the galleries but had moved by the time you looked up, so you didn't know where it was coming from, actors coming into the crowds, and confetti falling from the stage. Magical.

The cast was fantastic. Roger Allam as Prospero was every bit as good as you'd imagine - but also brought out the humour in the role (as you'd expect). And the dancing. Oh the dancing. We loved the dancing.

Colin Morgan (I don't watch 'Merlin' but apparently he's in that...) was a wonderful Ariel - but the highlight was James Garnon's Caliban - although every time he came on stage I shrunk back as he kept spitting on the audience and stealing their drinks. If you don't like being sprayed in beer/water don't stand at the front.

I also enjoyed being asked by Jonathan, George and Anna, literally about a billion times 'Are you ok - can you see?' I get it - I'm short.

I know Roger Allam a little bit, from 'Cabin Pressure' and he very kindly came out and had a quick drink with us in the Swan Bar (taking out his own bottle of red wine, and glass, from a bag, because he is a legend) which was nice, although I'm still having flashbacks to the question George asked him. Anyway, he's been in so many shows that we love (The Thick of It, Parade's End, Game of Thrones...) and introducing him to my brother made up for the cheapo £5 ticket. I think.

Look how pretty! It wasn't even a particularly warm evening, and it was still just beyond nice to sit by the river. I've never before wished an interval was longer.


London is also amazing because things like this happen:

On Thursday, Twitter informed me that the banana stand from Arrested Development was in Golden Square, Soho. So naturally I walked the 15 mins over there to get a free frozen banana. The new series will be exclusively on Netflix (I don't have Netflix, booo) and for my money this was an EXCELLENT PR stunt.

Fun fact: the Netflix rep who took my photo made me say 'I Bluthed myself' as he took the photo. And when I said 'made me' I mean I said 'No' first time and then he said I had to. Anyway, whatever - white chocolate covered frozen banana. And now let's all watch this.

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