- If we shadows have offended,
- Think but this, and all is mended,
- That you have but slumber'd here
- While these visions did appear.
- And this weak and idle theme,
- No more yielding but a dream,
- Gentles, do not reprehend;
- If you pardon, we will mend.
- And, as I am an honest Puck,
- If we have unearned luck
- Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
- We will make amends ere long;
- Else the Puck a liar call:
- So, good night unto you all.
- Give me your hands, if we be friends,
- And Robin shall restore amends.
I was a little apprehensive about this play because, whilst it's hard to go wrong with it, the last play I saw at the globe was really appallingly bad* and I was worried that they would mess this one up too. There was no need to worry, there was the correct number of actors to do the play correctly, with the actors playing Theseus/Oberon, Hippolyta/Titania, Puck/Philostrate, doubling up, as they should.
It was, most importantly, really fucking funny. I laughed so hard that my face still hurts whilst I'm writing this. I could go on for hours about why it was so good but, and this is I'll never be a critic of anything, I can't really evoke it in a way that would make any sense to someone who hadn't also seen it. Suffice to say that it was very good; fantastically acted, staged, and accompanied by beautiful music.
The setting in the globe really does add something to those plays I think. I love the way that you can clearly see the rest of the audience, seeing them creased up with laughter makes the jokes even funnier. I love the way that the actors wander in and out of the audience, directing lines and asides to certain figures in the crowd. I think, if nothing else, there's just something energetic and lively about it all that isn't there in normal theatres. When they want to get the audience's attention for the beginning of the play, for example, a man and a woman come out with massive drums and do a very impressive, and extremely loud, percussion set whilst the stragglers settle in. The whole thing just feels like fun somehow, you watch in attentive silence (when you aren't laughing) not because you're afraid of being tutted and frowned at, but because you are completely engrossed in the sound of unamplified voices declaiming centuries-old poetry over the sound of the modern city.
*Imagine, if you will, a production of The Tempest played in its entirety by three actors. Who never changed costumes, and often played more than one part in each scene. Sometimes carrying on conversations with themselves. It was annoying, they were fantastic performances, but essentially just a bit of acting virtuosity for the benefit of those who know the play off by heart already.