Since leaving London, I haven’t once been able to finish an entire Chipotle burrito. Whereas in London, that was at least a weekly occurrence. Clearly I just function better in England.
Please respect urban solitude.
This was the truest rule of the tube.
Had a lovely last night in London with all my friends, had a full English breakfast with my besties before heading to Heathrow, had a quick flight home and got to sleep in my big comfy Rhode Island bed last night. It’s good to be home. After about a week I’ll be like “okay I’m ready to go back now” I think, but I’ll muddle through somehow I’m sure. If I have any more London thoughts they’ll certainly go up on this blog, but I suppose I’m sort of saying goodbye. Goodbye blog, goodbye people who read, thank you & thank you London. Peace.
So London has decided to be perfect for my last few days, it’s in the high 70’s/low 80’s here and sunny and lovely and the city is totally alive, everyone’s walking around or sitting in parks and being happy and I love it.
Emily came in on Sunday and left this morning, and in that time we saw 4 shows at the Globe and one other show that was part of the festival at this other theatre called the Roundhouse in Camden.
- Romeo and Juliet in Portuguese, everyone was a clown, fun makeup, lots of people on stilts, a station wagon parked onstage, flowers everywhere, was very funny but awkwardly no chemistry between Romeo & Juliet, which is sort of unfortunate.
- Coriolanus in Japanese, done with 1 actor as Coriolanus and then a 4-actor chorus playing the rest of the parts, which I thought was really appropes for a show so much about the voice of the crowd etc. Not a very literal production, not a lot of literal movement, so it was a little hard to follow, but the talent was fantastic. Few laggy parts of them just standing there talking but by the end that got slightly mesmerizing and cool.
- Love’s Labors Lost in Sign Language was super cool, pretty much all literal movement and completely full of life, the male actors were almost all entirely perfect, the girls were a little ehh but still the show was utterly enjoyable. One of my favorites.
- 2 Roses for Richard III, which was a kind of circus crazy adaptation of Richard III from Brazil, lots of crazy stage effects, the role of Richard shared by the whole cast, switched between using the text and making their own and cheeky ad-libs about Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson, didn’t really pull itself together enough to be super enlightening about the play, was a lot of spectacle, but enjoyable (if a bit long).
- All’s Well That Ends Well in Gujarati, lots of music, gorgeous costumes, pretty much a Bollywood Shakespeare, the lead actress was amazing and gorgeous and lovely, the whole production was very fun, and that was my last Globe to Globe show! Awwww :(
Yeah, so today we’re doing a final Taco Bell trip, then I’m finishing up packing and tomorrow we’re having a last big night out with all our friends, then Saturday evening I fly out! Hard to believe. Just weird. Can’t really process it at the moment, just kinda looking forward to tacos and spending time with my friends and not really thinking beyond that. It’s been a crazy few months.
check out the rock n roll hat i got at the globe today! they give em out during matinees to keep the sun out of our eyes. fashion. this is possibly the perfect souvenir.
Fun fact: my waterproof mascara works! And thank goodness because that was just a 3 hour cryfest francais. In a perfect way. Just like breaking down in the back row, no biggie. Love it.
Also I’m probably like gonna get bogged down in having a life soon so my lengthy insane Shakespeare reviews are gonna dwindle even though the amount of Shakespeare seen is about to get crazy. So uhm you can go ahead and view that as a good thing if you want, or if you actually read everything I write in those posts (hi Mom) then I love you and I’m sorry.
It’s occurred to me that this blog will stop being a thing once I stop being in London, which is sad. I’ll keep it up here, of course, but not updating will be a hole in my heart. But we’ve got a week left, let’s make the best of it.
Another strange british thing of the day: curry chicken sushi roll. Like… I picked up some vegetable chicken sushi and ate it and one of them was deffs curry. That’s… innovative. And fairly delicious. Why don’t we have that in america???
I woke up this morning and heard an insane amount of chanting and was like “is there a strike or a protest or something?” but then realized that I live right down the street from a pub (because I am in England) and at said pub they show the football games (because I am in England) and while watching football games, English people get really excited and yell things and chant and generally freak out. And while I appreciate their enthusiasm, it’s just a bit jarring to hear constant chanting all morning long.
West Ham vs. Blackpool for a spot in the premier league, so even I understand how exciting it is. Intense stuff, folks.
I wrote “traditional gender roles” so many times today I thought I was back at the Rock.
The exam went really well, we got to pick 1 question from a list of 8 and the first one was exactly what I’d done for my practice essay. So I pretty much just re-wrote that and was outta there in no time. Cool.
And now I’m done and prepared to drown myself in theatre for the rest of forever. Seeing a show every day from tonight to Wednesday (actually, 2 shows on Tuesday), then a couple days to pack and party before I head home the following Saturday :( Oh dear.
So mad at myself for having plans for that night. It’s sort of my last night in town so I’m obliged to spend it with my friends but dang I’d love to see that.
Also I’m totally going to bring a towel out with me, and my friends will have to deal with the fact that they’re with the chick with the towel. It’ll be wonderful.
So I take really good notes in all my classes, which makes exam review easy, so I just read my notes and I’m like “stoicism hmmm yes Martin Guerre very interesting yes A CHRISTIAN BALE!” and I can’t for the life of me remember why Christian Bale made an appearance in my brain that class but apparently it was important enough to include in my otherwise immaculate notes. But it significantly brightened up my study session.
Usually when I think about Russell Brand I’m like “ugh he’s so funny and smart and beautiful” but since meeting him it’s all like “I HAVE BEEN TOUCHED BY HIS WONDERFUL HANDS I HAVE KISSED HIS PERFECT BEARDED CHEEK I HAVE STOOD RIGHT NEXT TO HIM AND HEARD HIS VOICE AND LAUGHED AND BEEN JOYOUS IN HIS PRESENCE OH MY GOODNESS” and part of me hopes it never wears off. The other part of me has other things to do with my life, like packing and finals, and can’t afford to be distracted by this nonsense. But I continue to indulge in my own mania and keep scrolling back to the picture I took the other day. Wonderful human being :)
So the two pictures I just posted are pictures I’ve sort of been meaning to take for a long time. “Sort of” meaning that I do mean to take pictures of those precise views whenever I walk home from the Globe (which is a lot since I sort of live there now), however, when I walk from the Globe it is usually nighttime and my crappy cameraphone does not sufficiently capture the glory of London and I always forget my actual camera and just tell myself I’ll remember next time.
But as you can see, the aforeposted pictures were, in fact, taken with my crappy cameraphone and it is not at all nighttime in them yet they were still taken on my walk home from the Globe. This, my friends, is because I walked out halfway through Henry IV Part 2 today. Because I rather disliked it.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the set of assumptions I make about a play before it’s even begun, even if I know next-to-nothing about it. For example, last night when I saw Henry IV Part 1, I looked at the cast list and saw that it was only 6 people. Given that I generally like plays with smaller casts, I gave the show major credit before I’d even entered the theatre. Today, in line for Part 2 looking at the program, I saw that it was a 16-person cast and was immediately like “ew.” These assumptions and judgements were, in fact, reflective of the general quality of the productions (in my opinion) but I don’t think that’s a universal truth in my theatregoing experience.
For example, the second assumption I made about each of these productions was based on looking at the set when I got in there. For Part 1 last night, there were all these crazy tables of different sizes and angles put together to make crazy platforms and ramps and steps coming off the stage and I was like “ew.” But for Part 2, I walked in and saw absolutely nothing onstage and was like “AWESOME” ‘cause generally I love really sparse productions like that. However in this case I was totally wrong, and the one with the crazy ramps was infinitely more awesome than the one with the bare stage.
So Henry IV Part 1 was put on by a company from Mexico and therefore charmingly billed as “Enrique IV” which I loved, and I may henceforth always call the Henry plays by their Spanish names. Just a warning. Anyhow, as I said, they had a 6-person cast, crazy ramps everywhere, and they had colorful period costumes and several very good-looking cast members (yes I’m shallow enough that this scores me points). All of the performances were awesome with the awkward exception of the title character, who just kinda said things in a yelly voice all the time but luckily Henry IV isn’t actually that much of a prominent/interesting character in his plays anyway (I kinda feel he reaches his peak as a character in Richard II (or perhaps now Ricardo II) before he even becomes king (that’s one thing I disliked about the Donmar production of Rich II I saw earlier this year was that there wasn’t enough Bolingbroke)). Let’s be real, we all come to see Falstaff (well I go to see Prince Hal and have a self-destructive love/hate intense crush on him but that’s me), and Falstaff was awesome. Like, I don’t even speak Spanish and I was laughing at pretty much every one of his lines. And his supporting crew, Hal included, was great, and the political rebels were awesome, Hotspur was so intense and not just in a yelly-voice way and the whole audience was super into it and there was swordfighting and awesomeness and I was just enthralled through the entire thing.
Part 2 was done tonight by a company from Argentina, also in Spanish, and for the first time in this entire Globe-to-Globe seeing-Shakespeare-in-other-languages experience, I wish I spoke the language. Because uhm the play didn’t have much else going for it. And I’m not more or less acquainted with Enrique IV Part 2 than I am with most of the rest of the canon, nor do I at all have any negative feeling towards it, so I’m totally laying the fault on the production for this one. As I said, they had a 16-person cast, but even when the number of people onstage was double that of the entire cast of Part 1, it just felt empty. There was no life to it, no fun, not even in the deliberately fun bits (of which there are SO MANY! in the Henry IV’s!) Like, the actors all took turns saying their lines and doing rather scripted actions to accompany them and otherwise there was pretty much nothing to the production.
Everyone had some sort of very-symbolic slightly silly-looking costume. Like, Falstaff was a clown and someone else was a ninja and someone else was gay and someone else was a gangsa or a biker or a rasta or a more Guys-and-Dolls classic gangster or a judge or something. And for some reason almost everyone had trackpants rolled up above their knees layered over black dress pants. Is that a look? I’m not sure. Anyway, the costumes might’ve been forgivable or even worked in any other production, and they continued to take this character-focused thing to everyone having their own special voice and walk and stock facial expressions etc. Clearly everyone worked really hard on developing a look and general mannerism for their character and that’s great, but then the thing is once you do that you’re supposed to apply it to the text. And like… I wasn’t really feeling that they did. Like, they did just enough textwork to know when to sound angry or to know when they were funny or whatever, but none of the performances had any subtlety or nuance, and none of the actions felt like interactions, it was like they were each doing their own little performance thing but forgot that it was all supposed to make up a cohesive play of several parts and attitudes that they were performing with several other people, and it was all just jumping strangely from mood to mood with no build or reason. It was really off-putting. Though again Falstaff was okay. Still in his own little world of character but pretty funny there. Not nearly as funny as the other guy but still got applause.
Anyway, yeah, I got bored. When I started wishing I could speak Spanish, I realized that I’d never really wished that before in one of these plays and that this probably meant that there was nothing really interesting about this production (perplexing, perhaps, but not good-interesting) and it was at the point where I’d usually rely on the text to work its magic but like… I didn’t know what they were saying and it’s not one of those plays I know well enough to do a line-by-line matchup. Unfortunately. And it was freezing cold and raining and I was sick of standing, my feet were already numb halfway through, maybe if it were warm or we were sitting and indoors I would’ve stuck it out but alas, I knew fairly quickly that I wasn’t gonna be staying through the second half. And then at the end of the first part they ended up attempting to derive comedy from negative/stereotypical portrayals of gay and mentally ill people, so I Christian Baled with absolutely no regrets. Just some residual tension in my shoulders from shivering because England has forgotten that it’s supposed to be spring.
It’s just a shame, ‘cause all the other Globe-to-Globe shows have been awesome. Now I’m faltering a little bit. It’s like after I saw that awful Hamlet at the end of last semester and I suddenly realized that Shakespeare can be done really really poorly and then I was completely scared to go to the Othello/12th Night I’d booked for the next week. To be fair, the Othello/12th Night was the perfect remedy of awesomeness to get me over the trauma of that Hamlet, and this Enrique IV 2 was nowhere near the terribleHamlet level of horrifyingly awful, but now I’m like “oh dang, I hope King Lear on Friday will be worth going to…” But I mustn’t loose faith. I shall persist in my theatregoing and trust the festival. If my mother taught me anything, it’s that one bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl. So I thank the lord for my mother’s Donny Osmond obsession and continue in my quest to Shakespeare my life away for the rest of forever. Wish me luck.