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Macbeth: Shakespeare's Globe

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Address: 21 New Globe Walk / Bankside / London / SE1 9DT / Tel: 020 7401 9919

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      24.06.2010 21:53
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      Go see it

      I studied Macbeth amongst other Shakespeare plays at school and it was by far my favourite, so when I saw that they were playing this at the Globe theatre in London I snapped up tickets as soon as I could.

      The Globe
      The Globe theatre is located on the south bank in London, very near the Tate Modern. The nearest stations are London Bridge on the Northern or Jubilee line (also a main line station). For a more scenic route go to St Pauls and walk across Millennium bridge. Although a modern theatre, it is modelled on the original Globe theatre that was built by Shakespeare's company in 1599 that was located around 200m from where it is now. The theatre itself is circular in shape and has three storeys, with seating that runs along the circumference. Like the original, it is an open air theatre and from the outside looks like a building from the 16th century.

      Tickets

      Tickets can be booked very easily through the website: www.shakespeares-globe.org. If you want a seat expect to pay between £15 and £40. However there is also space set aside in the yard for people or 'groundlings as they were known in Shakespeare's day', to stand and watch for only £5. I didn't I could really go wrong with this price and this is the option that my sister and I went for.

      The story

      The play is set in Scotland and tells the story of Macbeth, a general in the army, whose future is told by three witches. They predict that he will first become Thane of Cawdor and eventually become King. When the first prophecy comes true Macbeth takes matters into his own hands to ensure the remainder also comes true, with bloody consequences.

      My thoughts

      We arrived a little early than the scheduled 2pm start as we wanted to get a spot at the front of the yard. When we entered we saw that the front of the yard had been covered with a black tarpaulin, in which holes had been cut for people in the yard to poke their heads through. The idea behind this was that given the bloody nature of the play, the director wanted to create a sea of floating heads to add to the horror. The cloth only covered ¾ of the yard, so those that didn't want to stand with their heads poking out could stand at the back. We were intrigued though and went off to find a hole to poke our heads through.

      Soon the play started with bagpipes playing from the stands. As we were distracted by the music we didn't notice the three witches slip under the tarpaulin. They ran amok under the cloth, poking and scaring people as you couldn't see them coming due to your head poking out. This went on for about 5 minutes and I can't say I really enjoyed it as it made me feel quite vulnerable, as I don't like the element of surprise. As this was going on some actors also made it under the cloth, to stands that were located at intervals. One of these was located next to me and all of a sudden an actor covered in blood popped up writhing and groaning in pain as he'd been hurt in battle. This was a bit of a shock and literally made me jump out of my skin. As the play commenced we had bits of body parts flung at us, including the severed tongue of the Thane of Cawdor (a bit of jelly covered in blood) and the contents of the waste bucket belonging to the night porter! I didn't really like this aspect - but then I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to stuff like this. I guess I didn't expect it to be quite so gory! They certainly must have worked through several pints of fake blood!

      The play was true to the book, old English and all. It's been a number of years since I read a Shakespeare play and to be honest I still struggled with understanding everything despite knowing the play well. If you do decide to see a play at the Globe my advice would be to read the play beforehand. I wouldn't go and see a play there that I had never come across before. The acting on the whole was good with the lead played by Elliot Cowan and Laura Rogers Lady Macbeth. At times though I felt the acting was a little wooden and it didn't feel like there was much passion being injected into what the actors were saying, but I thought this improved as the play progressed.

      After the interval of around 20 minutes, we decided that all that standing was making us tired so we moved to the back of the yard and leant against the wall whilst watching the remainder of the play. As the play moved to it's gory battle scene finale the heavens above us opened as if to reflect the mood! Quite apt I thought. On a serious note though, it would be wise to bring a hat with you (we forgot!). Umbrellas would be impractical and I'm not sure that they'd be allowed.

      Overall I quite enjoyed the play and I think it was a fiver well spent! If I were to watch another play at the Globe it'd have to be one that I was familiar with otherwise I'd be lost. Next time I would also consider a seat for £15 as standing around for just over 2 hours left us pretty tired!

      Frustratingly, it took dooyoo several weeks to accept this review request and as such the play is in it's final week. The last play is on Sunday so if you're in the London area with nothing planned this weekend I'd recommend this!

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