Guess what? My persistence paid off! Last Tuesday, after a sunny morning stroll and brunch in Kensington Gardens, I made it my mission to go to Shakespeare’s Globe yet again, to try to convince them to let me see “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” I got there at about 1pm, about an hour before the afternoon show, and what-do-you-know, they had standing tickets available! Now, I am not normally keen on standing to watch a show, especially when it is for a 3 hour-long show. But, in this case I had to make an exception. Like I mentioned before, it was a beautiful sunny day with a nice breeze coming off the Thames. Probably the best type of day possible for an outdoor performance!
Anyway, to add to my luck, I had probably two of the shortest people I’ve ever seen between me and the stage so I had an almost perfect view of the performance. And thank goodness! It was absolutely fantastic! Even if I wasn’t a theatre major with an obvious (I would hope it would be obvious by now anyway) love for theatre, I think this play would have sparked my love forevermore. There was so much going on! Wood sprites wreaked havoc among the spectators, singing and shrieking simultaneously, dropping lanterns from the open ceiling into large butterfly nets, and of course, frightening the silly mortal characters onstage. Musicians played various instruments such as the guitar, flutes, tambourine, etc., the group of “actors” in the play all sported metal clogs that they clomped around in merriment. There were even ropes on the two large pillars on the stage that characters would climb up on and swing from!
The actors and actresses in the show were all very talented! I especially liked Oberon, King of the fairies, and his commanding presence (and skill climbing up a rope!) and Lysander, one of the young lovers who had great comedic facial expressions and got tons of laughs from the audience. But, no one could top the performance given by a man named Joe Dixon who played the infamous Nick Bottom. If you haven’t read/seen the play before, Nick Bottom is an over-confident fool who thinks he is intelligent but is really a focal laughing point throughout the entire play (culminating when Puck turns his head into that of a literal Ass, the donkey kind, and bewitches the fairy Queen to fall in love with him). Mr. Dixon played Bottom is such a sarcastic and slow non-chalant way, I actually laughed out loud at some points (and I do not “literally” lol pretty much ever). All of the silly “player” characters were hilarious and complimented each other very well. The very best scene was when the players performed their play of Pyramus and Thisbe. The crowd (myself included) was beside itself with laughter for the straight 20 minutes that the “play within a play” endured.
The one negative I have to say about the play, and it pains me to say it: Puck. He was absolutely awful. Although he looked the part (super skinny, kind of like a dancer, perfect for a sprightly fairy), he seemed to make absolutely no acting decisions whatsoever. If I hadn’t known he was supposed to be mischievous and cunning, I would have had a really tough time figuring it out. And I think the audience would have agreed with me. When Puck would deliver a line that is typically meant to be funny, the audience would slightly chuckle, but seem altogether confused as to what the actor was doing with his body. It was literally like watching a parody of someone reciting Shakespeare “with feeling” but actually evoking no true emotion or creating any action whatsoever. The only thing that saved Puck was his fun scenes with Oberon, where Oberon would yell at him and such. Every time Puck opened his mouth I rolled my eyes and glared at some stage prop, conveniently in the opposite direction, to show my silent protest. And when he spoke the very last words of the play, I about wanted to cry.
But then I looked at Lysander, Hermia, Helena, Oberon, Hippolyta, the Players, and my saving grace, Bottom, and the smile came back to my face. Thankfully, after a couple hours rest, the feeling came back to my legs as well. A fantastic experience I would recommend to everyone! THE number one theatre to visit in London, England, and one of the best shows I’ve seen!
And as it is pretty late in dearest London, and I am a very cheesy kind of girl, I shall leave you with this,
“Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow!”
(Not from “Midsummer” but one can appreciate my gesture)