Wednesday, July 24, 2013

henry, henry, henry

We remembered Pioneer Day by celebrating the Pioneer of English Theatre, William Shakespeare. We spent the day at the Globe. For seven hours!

Nobody really does the Henry VI plays, mostly because they are pretty boring and very confusing. It's the Duke of Bedford this, and Lady Somerset that, and you get so mixed up about who is who and who hates who and who wants the crown and why. Reading them can be tortuous. There's not really a lot of lovable characters and there's not a ton of action. Joan of Arc pops up, and there are a couple of drunk comic types, but the rest of the time it's just a weak, pious king and a bunch of dudes who talk around him.

So when the Globe announced they were doing all three Henry VI plays, I knew this was our chance. Because nobody knows how to spice things up like they do. And when they announced they would perform all three shows in one day, I knew this was just the marathon we all needed. And it was a marathon. But oh, so worth it. We started at noon and finished at 10 pm, with two short dinner breaks between each show. We needed to eat. You stand for these plays, you know. So that's seven hours of standing. And while many of us upgraded to seats for one show (I did), Aubrey and David stood for all three. They deserve a medal! Instead they get a picture on my blog. (pppppffffffffft)

I have a new respect for the Henry VI plays now. Not a love, necessarily. But I found so much to love in these productions. Here are ten things I saw and loved:

1. Stylised fighting on the battle (miming with swords!)
2. A bunch of guys with imaginary hawks on their arms
3. Three cut off heads, one cut off tongue, and an arrow in an eye
4. A terrifying demon that came out of a lady's womb
5. A broken neck, twisted to the sound of cracking nuts in a bag
6. The white paint of York and the red paint of Lancaster smeared all over the actors faces
7. A Satanic circle of sand
8. A super flamboyant King of France and his "lady"
9. Booming kettle drums
10. Brendan O'Hea, who played the Duke of York

Afterwards everyone was exhausted, but strangely exhilarated. This was kind of a feat. I'm so proud of them. As we walked home we were rewarded with clear skies, stars, and St. Paul's Cathedral, looking as majestic and clear as ever.