Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Will's new house--just like the old house

Minstrels playing before the show starts

Reading that DC's Shakespeare Theater is about to open its new home downtown reminded me we haven't blogged about our trip a few weekends ago to see Othello at the Globe theatre in London (A belated public thanks to KT for such a cool birthday present!). The Globe is a recreation of the one where Shakespeare acted and his plays were first performed--the original one burned down in 1613.

It was a chilly day of near-constant rain so I was very happy that KT had splurged on great center-stage, third level, front row tickets (and that we rented cushions for the wooden benches). The Globe has an open roof so the folks standing in front of the stage--the groundlings, as they were known in the Bard's day--got soaked, while we were safely protected by the thatched roof. The groundlings have to stand the entire play in the elements but they do get the best seat (so to speak) in the house for a mere $10. The actors frequently came through the audience to reach the stage.

As for the play itself, I would give it a solid B. For those who don't recall, it tells the tale of a famous black warrior in a white society who dares to marry a white woman--and of how he is tricked into killing her (Desdemona) in a jealous rage by his evil "friend" Iago. I've seen the play a few times-- once with Star Trek's Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) playing Othello as a white man in a black society!--and it usually hinges on whether Iago is believably villainous. In this production, Desdemona and Iago were well-acted, but Othello needed more volume--I don't think the actor was used to working without a microphone and he needed to project to make his words better heard. Still, the tragic ending was very powerful.

(On an amusing aside, I came home from the play recalling the song "Desdemona" from the "Fame" TV series and spent far too much time the next day watching video clips of that show on YouTube. I even watched the anniversary show where they gathered Debbie Allen and rest of the cast after 10 years. I used to love "Fame" and it was apparently an even bigger hit in Europe than in the U.S. Odd fact: The hour-long Fame episodes were stripped of all the musical numbers and also shown in syndication as a half-hour school drama. What was the point of that?!)

Outside the Globe

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