Today was the first Globe outing for the Weasels this year and The Tempest was the play. I set off from Aldershot (Mirinda kindly drove me on her way to pick up the poodles from the kennel) because of engineering work, which meant buses from Alton to Aldershot.
Because of the aforementioned engineering work, I had made up my mind to stay at the flat, knowing full well that following the theatre, the Weasels would insist on drinking half of London dry. Staying at the flat was a good decision.
Having dropped my stuff at the flat (and briefly skyping with Mirinda, Fiona and Bob), I went back to the Jubilee Line to London Bridge to meet them at the Anchor, our usual pre-Globe rendezvous. For a change, I was the first one there but I didn’t have long to wait for the others and we were soon sitting with a pint, catching up on our various adventures.
We were Lorna and Darren, John (of course), Lindy, Rob and Carla (or Clara…I can’t remember) and Tom. Unfortunately Bev and her new beau Jon, had to pull out so our usual first substitution, Tottie also joined us. Handily, Tottie has been in a production of The Tempest and could furnish me with handy answers when required.
We were in our favourite Gentlemen’s box again and would have started laying out the food and wine but for the fact that John seemed to have disappeared. This was a bit odd because he’s usually one of the first to start hauling food out of his backpack, covering the table in tasty morsels. Everyone looked around in wonder and enquiry but of John, there was no sign. And then he appeared looking flustered and very un-Johnlike.
“They confiscated my penknife,” He declared, holding his fingers barely two inches apart, indicating the weapon’s length. “I had to show them inside the bag and, when they spotted the penknife, they said I might drop it over the balcony. They didn’t bother searching me though. I could have had something far more serious about my person! And then this idiot of foreign extraction asked me about the wine box. He forced me to open the top in case it was full of bottles. I tried to explain to him what a wine box was but he was having none of it. As I said, he was an idiot.”
This was a very entertaining way to start our day of theatre – a sort of entre-acte in fact.
The performance was exquisite. From the start, with the thunder sheets and tinkling xylophone, bodies being tossed and turned by the imaginary wind and waves, it held great promise and more than delivered.
A little while ago, watching the Reduced Shakespeare Company with Dawn, I was struck by the fact that they classed The Tempest as a comedy. Apart from Prospero’s Books, a film by Peter Greenaway starring Sir John Guilgud as Prospero, I’ve not seen a production of the play though I know the story quite well. A comedy, I thought, how could this be? But a comedy, it certainly was.
Among a wonderful cast, Caliban (played zealously by James Garnon) stood out as a very special performance. I’m not sure if the audience is supposed to feel a bit sorry for him and his situation but I certainly did. He is sorely mistreated by Prospero simply because he is who he is, a poor neglected native who has had his island taken away from him. But this feeling of pity for Caliban was generously tempered with hilarity thanks to the acting talents of James. If I never see another Caliban, it won’t matter a jot. He was superb.
As Propero, the recogniseably voiced Roger Allam, was believable and strong though, for some reason, I didn’t quite believe him. I’m not sure why that was because he was more than adequate in the role.
The rest of the cast also excelled, in particular Trevor Fox as Trinculo the jester who, at one stage, clumsily urinated on the front row of the groundlings. While the rest of the theatre erupted into laughter, the now wet groundlings were not that pleased about it. He later doused another section in wine as he waved a bottle around.
The Weasels all agreed, the performance was superb as we headed off for the first of our pubs on the north bank of the Thames. I’m not going to bore anyone reading this by ticking off the names of them but I would just like to say that our favourite watering hole, the Black Friar’s at Blackfriars, will now probably be struck off the list. They have introduced an eating only section in the back of the pub. This is where we would always sit and drink. No more, it seems.
It was somewhat later while sat in the Coal Hole that a very strong wave of jet lag poured through me. Staggering to my feet and collecting my jacket, I bid my farewells and headed out, back to the flat. I’m not sure how I managed it but I reached the flat, unlocked the door and threw myself onto the bed just before sleep engulfed me. A lucky thing, indeed. I would never had made it to Farnham.