Drinking weasels

Having bypassed the Blackfriars pub (after our previous, awful discovery that it had turned into a gastro-pub) we ended up at the George at the end of Fleet Street. Imagine our joy and delight when we found a real ale pump, labelled Weasel Beer. It was like a sign from Bacchus.

weaselBeer

Naturally we all had a pint. Well, except for Lex (or Bex…I’m not sure which one is which) who was on very strong painkillers and drinking only diet coke. Sadly we weren’t that keen; it is a beer for trying then leaving alone. A bit fruity but with a powerful bitterness that coats the tongue and throat quite unpleasantly.

We wondered where it had been brewed. The label said ‘in house’ but the Schumanian barman told John that this was a lie. He didn’t know where it was brewed but it certainly wasn’t anywhere on the premises. I thought it may have been the collection of slops from the drip tray, drained into an unmarked barrel, downstairs.

Our second beers were a little more palatable. The good thing about the George is the vast selection of real ale they have on tap. And it always changes. Of course, with Weasels, this means we all get to take a sip of each other’s to ensure we sample the entire range.

The reason we were together was for our second Globe performance this year. It was Henry VI, Part 1. This follows directly on from Henry V, which we saw last year and, eventually, leads in to Richard III, which we also saw last year. The problem is that Henry VI is the first of three parts and it ends on a bit of a cliff hanger. A bit annoying for the audience members who decide not to witness the entire history at one sitting.

The play starts with the arrival of a coffin, supposedly containing the body of Henry V, over which much dialogue is spilled. Actually, the coffin seems to be a symbol, possibly utilised by the director to show the shadow of the great Henry V, a mute witness to the struggles of the aristocracy in finding a successor.

The play is an odd mix of fighting and politics. We are transported back and forth from England to France as the Lancastrian and Yorkish factions vie for supremacy back home and little bits of the French possessions, so ably won by Henry V, are gradually taken back by the Shakespearean ‘cowardly French.’

As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of humour in Henry VI but, what there is, is mainly delivered by the French as they run away a lot and are roundly defeated by Talbot and Burgundy. Of course, the English power is swatted and doused by a feisty, bloodthirsty Joan of Arc.

The lack of humour is more than made up for with a lot of sword play and macho posing, giving the play a lot of energy. Well, if you ignore the scene where, just before his death, Henry Beaufort rattles off his family tree in a style similar to the ‘begating’ at beginning of the Bible.

By the end of the play, I was hungry for a resolution (Shakespeare leaving the audience wanting more) but it was not to be. It just ends; the cast bows, exits then goes off to get ready for Part II while we, the audience, are hurriedly shuffled away.

While not my favourite Globe production, I did rather enjoy Henry VI (though we were in Gentleman’s Box A which does give an obscured view) and particularly the performance of Beatriz Romilly as Joan. I liked her very much. The play says little about her divine mission but concentrates on her prowess with the sword and unswerving belief in an English-free France. Ms Romilly exuded these qualities superbly.

I rather liked the way Shakespeare had Joan assert that she was pregnant, as a last ditched effort to escape being executed. This was laughed off dismissively with a remark about her virginity proving otherwise. None of that brave Joan of French history, standing up defiantly to the end and facing death with resolution and deep (disturbing) faith.

Once again, Tudor politics are painted huge in the Bard’s dialogue. It’s important to remember that this was written and performed not that long after the events in the play and the loss of the French possessions no doubt still rankled. Joan was made out to be a vicious Amazon who wanted nothing but blood. There was very little about her deranged relationship with a mysterious, invisible god. I found this refreshing.

Apart from Joan, it’s difficult to single out any one else. The cast performs very well as an ensemble and it was very enjoyable and, basically, quite understandable. Or perhaps I’m just getting used to listening to iambic pentameter.

One of the best bits of the day was when it started raining. It marks the first time, in all the years we’ve been going to the Globe, that we’ve witnessed what happens when it rains down on the groundlings.

Oh, how we laughed. Like the Tudor aristocracy we waved and toasted them with our wine. Ignoring our base delight, there was a sudden flurry of movement and plastic raincoats were produced by those smart enough to have them. When the interval arrived and the groundlings left the pit, the ground was dotted with the dry bits of ground sheltered by the audience members.

Then, as if waiting in the wings for inclement weather, a woman arrived with a tray full of clear plastic protection, selling them to the damp people who didn’t bring any of their own.

rainCoats

Of course, as soon as the raincoats had all been sold, the sun came out, the clouds drifted away and we enjoyed the second half under sunny blue skies. Hey ho…so it goes…

But of course, it’s never just about the play or laughing at the groundlings. The Weaselling was also of top quality, the food delicious and the drink plentiful. Among the usuals (John, Lorna, Darren, Lindy and me) we were also joined by sometime usual Dawn and newcomers Philippa (a real archaeologist) and Bex and Lex, one of whom works with Darren. A jolly bunch, for sure.

But, as all things must, we were soon going our separate ways home. I walked to Waterloo with Dawn, seeing her onto a Portsmouth train, before heading down to the Jubilee Line and to the flat.

And, parked up outside the Turkish restaurant in Canary Wharf, was the HMS Northumberland, looking splendid under lights. I couldn’t resist a quick photo before heading to the flat.

northumberland

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2 Responses to Drinking weasels

  1. So you stayed two nights at the flat, better then getting home really late.
    love mum x

  2. Forgot to mention the ship how lovely it looked something out of a creepy book.
    love mum x

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