last week's Wonderful Wednesday, it was my mister's birthday on Thursday. I started thinking about gift ideas a few months' ago in a very organised moment. This time last year, we were in peak wedding-planning mode and both of our birthdays (mine is at the end of August) were slightly overlooked in the process. (Evil of all evils, I'd organised a pre-wedding getting to know you photoshoot with our wedding photographer on the actual day of the mister's birthday last year - I don't think I'm forgiven yet.) The mister always thoroughly spoils me though and I really wanted to plan something special to do this year, something slightly different.
As I'd started looking a few months' ago, I decided to have a look on the Globe's website to see what was on around his birthday...it's something I've looked at before on previous occasions but usually looking for something to do in the near future, when tickets have always been very much sold out.
I don't know a lot of Shakespeare's plays and didn't really enjoy the few that we were forced to read at school but I've watched and enjoyed the comedies that I've seen, so that was what I had in mind when choosing which play to buy tickets for. There was 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', which I'd seen a few times before, 'Macbeth', definitely NOT a comedy, and 'The Taming of the Shrew', which I opted for...knowing it was a comedy but not much else. In fact, all I knew about it was derived from 'Ten Things I Hate About You', which I haven't watched in aaaages...might be time to dig that out again. I was a little concerned about what the weather would be doing by the time mid-July rolled around (and until today it's been rubbish!) so decided not go to for the uncovered standing section but booked tickets for the Middle Gallery. The tickets arrived a few weeks later and, after a little panic that I'd been busted because 'The Globe' was stamped on the envelope (thankfully I have a very unobservant husband), squirreled them away and excitedly kept quiet until I popped the tickets into the mister's birthday card last week. We were off to the Globe!
After some dinner in down, we headed over to the Globe with enough time for a drink beforehand and, as we had tickets for the show, we were able to go to the outside bar and watch the crowds
Onto the play... All I knew about the plot was that it focuses on a chap with two daughters - Bianca, the youngest, wants to get married but her dad won't let her until her elder sister, Kate, the 'Shrew' of the title, gets married...so much, so Ten Things I Hate About You (swap 'get married' with 'date'). What I did not realise (or hadn't really considered) was the controversial, misogynistic element to this whole story, which so many people have found so unpalatable - the taming of a fantastic, wild woman by forcing her into marriage. This interpretation didn't seek to apologise for that though or try to excuse it or brush it under the table - so much so that the wild comedy of the first half gave way to almost a haunted tragedy in the second half.
When I bought the tickets earlier this year, I also didn't realise that this version would be portrayed by an all-Irish cast. They set it in Ireland in 1916 at the time of the Easter Rising, also the time when Irish women were granted equal rights to men. Interspersed with gorgeously evocative folk music and freedom ballads sung (almost howled) by the fantastic Kate, we were transported into the play...caught up by Kate's whirlwind of fury and then dashed into the rocks with her as we watched her crushed by her imposing husband.
There was a wonderful amount of classic Shakespearean clowning too, which kept the whole audience laughing...particularly when it involved the groundlings standing in front of the stage - I don't think one chap is going to forget being ridden by a cast member anytime soon, and that was just for starters.
Honestly, even if you're not Shakespeare's number one fan, this was such an experience and if you have any chance whatsoever to go and get tickets for this performance of 'The Taming of the Shrew', you really must. My few words in no way do it justice - it was superb.
One tip though, if you're booking seated tickets, definitely opt for a cushion! A few hours on a wooden seat lead only to a sore derriere, even after the slightly numbing effect of a few Pimms...