Today I travelled up to London, not to see the final day of the Olympics but to join in another bit of patriotic fervour; Henry V at the Globe.
Mirinda joined me on the train as she was on her way to the flat in preparation for her big filming day tomorrow. I hauled a big suitcase full of her make-up to a couple of ferry wharves before bidding her adieu.
The crowds along South Bank were quite intense though they were nothing compared to the hordes on the north side of the river, lining the men’s marathon route. Helicopters hovered and a general anticipation of a glorious final night seemed to pervade everywhere.
Not for me, these crowds of sports enthusiasts. I met the Weasels at the usual entrance to the Globe and we piled into Gentleman’s Box B, food and drink quickly laid out on the generous table.
Along with the usual suspects (Lorna, Darren, John, Tom, Bev and I) we were joined by Gabs, Anna, Matthew and Tottie. To be fair, Tottie is gradually becoming one of the usual suspects but this time she took her mother’s ticket because she couldn’t join us. We were a jolly party.
Most of the world knows what I think of Shakespeare but I may have to re-assess my opinion after this performance. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was easily the best play I’ve seen at the Globe.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
In particular Jamie Parker as Henry was utterly believable. His fervour, majesty and heroics were inspiring. At one point (during the above speech) one grown man at the front of the groundlings was seen to wipe away a tear.
As Henry finished this speech with the immortal:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’
The audience joined him in a rousing cheer, wanting the inevitable clash of arrow and sword that would resound down through the ages as one of the greatest English military victories.
But the depth of Jamie’s Henry didn’t stop at the war hero and leader of men. His awkwardness with Katherine near the end of the play was wonderful as they grappled with their language barrier.
I also want to include plaudits for Olivia Ross as Katherine. Given this was her theatre debut, she excelled.
It’s always difficult just picking out actors from an ensemble cast that is working fabulously together. The sense of great theatre was all through the performance and everyone played their part well.
After the performance (just before the curtain calls, we were entertained with a marvellous dance from the cast) we were further entertained by a very generous Sam Cox (who played a wonderful Pistol) who gave us a tour of back stage.
Sam’s wife works with Lorna and he’d offered to show us all around. It was a rare treat as we wandered backstage, on stage, above stage and through the communal dressing room. (There are no star dressing rooms at the Globe; they all muck in together.) In fact, we went in one side and, given the Globe is a circle, came out the other.
Had the day ended there, I’d have left contented but, of course, being a Weasel outing, there was beer to be had at several hostelries south of the river.
Earlier, during our trip into London, we were warned (many, many times) by the train guard that the trains tonight would be very crowded because of the marathon and the closing ceremony. I must have picked the perfect time because there were very few people on my train home.