Play #3: The True Tragedy of Richard, Duke of York

Had a quiet weekend–Saturday I went to lunch with Serena at Rasa, this Indian place that a friend of mine said was the best in London. It didn’t disappoint! We were both sniffling from the spice by the end. (Though after tasting Serena’s dish, I wish I’d gotten something with chicken in it.) Afterwards, I stopped at the British Museum to make my way through another couple of rooms (the masquerade and woodcarving rooms of the Africa section).

Sunday I did some site research, which turned out to be an adventure.  We’re supposed to independently look into one site from two lists: old places related to Shakespearean productions, and modern venues. I got off the tube at Leicester Square and did some creeping around the Noel Coward theatre. They’re putting on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so I figured it would be an easy write-up. Then I opted for Middle Temple as my older site. It’s one of the Inns of Court where lawyers hang out and take their clients. I didn’t realize that the lane was shut off from the street by a big black door until I saw an older gentleman step through. I’m not sure I was supposed to be in there, but I found Middle Temple Hall and got a picture. A film crew had part of the area shut off, so after my skulking didn’t turn up any familiar faces I made my way back to the high streets.

That left me with a little over four hours to kill before the play. I walked across Blackfriars Bridge to the South Bank so that I’d be near the Globe. I passed some time in the Tate Modern, which is right next door to the theatre. Saw some Realism, some Surrealism, and the Museum of Contemporary African Art, which was more of a concept than anything else. The exhibit left plenty of room for interaction and engagement. Would go again.

As it turned out, just down the bank the Thames Festival was in full swing. I wandered through and it reminded me of Bumbershoot–arts and crafts, food vendors, and music, all by the water, all under the vague threat of rain (did I mention that it started raining this weekend?).

I got back to the Globe, got a prime spot in the groundlings queue, and ended up standing right against the stage with Derek, Serena, and Yoojung, one of our other classmates. To begin with, this isn’t one of my favorite plays. There’s a lot of fighting, and a lot of loyalty-switching without clear character motivation. It’s kind of what I was afraid history plays would be before I read Henry V.  That being said, the production did a pretty good job of making it entertaining. The acting fell flat for me in the first half, but in the second half Clifford and Margaret acted their socks off with the tragedy, so much so that I may have misted up a bit. The production also transformed a scene with the French King Lewis and his sister Lady Bona into a definite highlight. They had the king heavily made up and used a man in drag for Lady Bona. Following in the grand Elizabethan tradition of French-bashing, they turned King Lewis into a singing, suggestive, tantrum-throwing, slapstick work of art. I got a good belly laugh out of it.

Today, we zoomed through a discussion of that play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Much Ado About Nothing. Tomorrow night we’ll be seeing JAMES EARL FREAKING JONES and VANESSA (YES, “THE”) REDGRAVE as Benedick and Beatrice at the Old Vic.  I may be a little excited. (Read the rundown of that play here.)