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When Allison and I decided to take in a Shakespeare play at the Globe Theatre earlier this year, the one criterion as to which one was that it had to be one we’d both studied at school. That way we’d both be in a position to figure out what was going on should we get lost amid the Shakespearean dialogue.

Thus did we end up watching Macbeth, or ‘The Scottish Play’ as it is apparently referred to by actors who have a superstition about saying the word ‘Macbeth’ out loud (for a particularly good send-up of this, I refer you to the Blackadder the Third episode ‘Sense & Senility’ – and for a good take on what presumably goes on behind the scenes in theatres with explicit reference to Macbeth, please watch the second series of Slings & Arrows; I still cannot understand why no British TV network ever imported that show; it’s not like we haven’t heard of Paul Gross).

It’s hard to believe that I had never actually seen a Shakespeare play performed live before – I guess I just assumed that actually going to see one in London was something only tourists did. Since this was my (and Allison’s) first live Shakespeare experience, we reckoned that we might as well go all the way and see it at the Globe.

Back in Shakespeare’s time, the Globe was one of several theatres on the South Bank, and they were located there because the City of London authorities had a problem with the staging of plays in the City, as crowd control tended to be an issue. The original was built in 1599, burned down in 1613 (when a cannon was fired on-stage) and rebuilt only to be closed down and demolished by the Puritans in 1644. The modern-day reconstruction was built in the 1990s and was the brainchild of the actor San Wanamaker.

The reconstruction aims to be as authentic as possible, and is constructed of English oak; no structural steel was used and so it is as authentically late-16th century as you can get; the Globe also has the only thatched roof to have been permitted on a new building in London since the Great Fire of 1666.

As for the play, I rather enjoyed myself. Macbeth seen live at the Globe was much better than Macbeth as studied in GCSE English Lit, and it got a lot more laughs than you might expect from a play about a warrior-turned-bloodstained-psychopath.

We went for the seats as we didn’t fancy standing in the pit for several hours. The seats are hard wooden ones, but at least you can hire cushions.

Another London experience completed…

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