When I tell people how much I love standing up for three hours to watch a play, outside in the pouring rain and blazing sun at The Globe Theatre, and that I pay for this privilege, they think I'm crazy. But what can I say, sometimes you just want to live like an Elizabethan peasant for an afternoon, getting spat on by actors (accidentally), and getting squashed and pickpocketed (true story, happened to a friend of mine). However, as much as I love the Globe's USP, it sucks that they have to close for half the year as winter descends. Now this problem is forever solved with their new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, a replica of a Jacobean theatre. I couldn't wait to see something from their first ever season there, and went for the silly comedy The Knight of the Burning Pestle.
Sorry for the grainy pictures, it was dark in there. You can see much nicer pics on the website. At first I was so busy gawping at how fantastic the place is that I didn't realise I had been directed to not only the wrong seat, but also to the wrong level. I don't think the ushers have got the hang of the place yet! With minutes to spare I was whisked away from the cheap seats and propelled into the middle level - by far the best seats in the house!
As you can see, I couldn't have had a more central view. The actors were already larking about onstage as we were taking our seats, and the two central characters, played by Phil Daniels and Mrs Doyle from Father Ted (not her actual name) sat in the audience throughout the play. They played financial investors of the 'actual' play being performed, and kept interupting the onstage action to add their views and opinions. They also made sure that their beloved son, Rafe, was cast in the play. Their constant interjections were utterly hilarious, and they did an amazing job - energetic and well-timed throughout.
I don't think I could have seen a better example of original Jacobean comedy in this authentic space, which they used so well - performing in front of, within, and even behind the audience (there's a passageway running around the theatre that can be opened up using shutters). I can't wait to see how other plays will be staged here; maybe some contemporary ones would be interesting....