Shakespeare within the Abbey

Shakespeare within the Abbey: Mark Rylance

★★★★★

All Places that the Eye of Heaven Visits 

(The Globe at Westminster Abbey, 22 April 2017)

Waiting outside Westminster Abbey with mounting excitement, my mum said that she really didn’t mind what this evening involved as long as she got to see Mark Rylance. We were about to experience his brainchild: an extraordinary promenade performance which brought a company of Globe actors over the river for a magical evening among the pillars and monuments of this splendid church. For two nights only, you could wander in the Abbey and be surprised at every turn by an actor ready to share a soliloquy in front of a tomb, or to stare into your eyes and declaim a sonnet. It’s entirely thanks to my parents’ efficiency that we’d been able to get tickets and so I was keen that Mum should have her moment. And she did, though not as any of us had expected.

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Twelfth Night: William Shakespeare

Twelfth Night: William Shakespeare

★★★★½

(Apollo Theatre, London, playing in rep with Richard III until 9 February 2013)

I should, of course, have seen these plays the other way round: Twelfth Night in early January and then Richard III last night, spiced with the news that the skeleton found beneath a car park in Leicester is (almost certainly) that of the king. Anyway, it was a joy to return to the Apollo for my second encounter with the Globe company in their winter quarters. Once again I hung over the balcony watching the actors milling around as they were dressed, watching doublets and hose tugged on, bodices laced up, lead-white paint and rouge applied to faces. Even without their wigs, the actors gained a feminine elegance as soon as they were into their skirts; and I watched Mark Rylance’s hands fluttering convulsively as he was laced up, as if trying physically to shake himself into his role.

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