Titus Andronicus at The Globe Theater 

Today’s highlights were two things: Titus Andronicus at Shakespeare’s Globe and Nandos. Both surpassed the hype in their own ways. The Globe’s cast and musicians, through skill and innovation, and Nandos for its yum yum in my tum tum. 

We took a tour of Shakespeare’s Globe on a sunny day at noon and it was lovely. It was informational and succinct. It was led by a knowledgeable and perfectly not grumpy but also not too peppy guide. Who I kept imagining as an MFA student of one of the nearby programs. I wondered if it was a prestigious gig or not, giving the tours. He seemed over it at first but in certain spots I felt like the wonder he still had for it all came out. I like that because I guess it makes me feel better about never wanting to be over it. 

I heard Chris teach about Elizabethan theater a million times so it was magic to finally be in this space. Even if it wasn’t the original theater or the original location, it felt as upstream as I could drink on the matter. And I’m always after that upstream drinking. Plus I now had fresh, real images in my mind to replace the ones from Shakespeare in Love. Sorry, Ben. 

I loved hearing the tour guide talk about the audiences in Shakespeare’s time. What seeing a play was like. Theater back then was a ruckus and that’s my favorite thing about it. Not just because it felt like a sporting event and I grew up playing sports but I think because of the accessibility. There were layers of meaning to the shows, for the most educated to the most unlearned, and they played their parts for everyone’s understanding and entertainment. Not catering to the elitists! Which I seem to have it especially out for. (We’re seeing The Lehman Brothers Trilogy tomorrow night and I can’t wait). 

Speaking of ruckus, there were some college students workshopping material on the stage as we toured the O. They had a director working with them as groups like ours passed through. I could see the actors waiting their turns were nervous and excited. I was immediately reminded of all the weird things Theater Kids do (and that I did) to deal with the anxiety in these situations. It took me back to KCACTF or other big auditions and workshops. I also saw them steel themselves, put their brave faces on before approaching the stage, and give it their all. Jacques’ line, “All the world’s a stage,” rang in my ears and these students reminded me to take the stage of life with fervor. I’ll remember that every time I listen to Rush’s “Limelight.” Which is too many times according to my daughter. And she’s right.

Later, we wanted a meal before seeing Titus Andronicus and we were intrigued by The Anchor, but it was crowded and I couldn’t figure out how it worked so we ran into the happy accident of a Nandos next door. It was insanely delicious. It’s my new favorite thing. We were running late so I ate the rest of my chicken pita as we ran along the river Thames to Shakespeare’s Globe like the Yankiest doodle. This was also after an emergency trip to the endodontist hours before. Every bite hurt so good. 

Titus Andronicus was dynamic and bold and moving. One of the best shows I’ve seen. It was candle-lit, and the chandeliers of candles moved up and down on ropes as needed in the scenes. It was also an all female cast and these women really delivered both comedically and dramatically. 

There was not one digital device used in any way to produce it. That was peculiarly interesting to us as we had been chatting today about the need for a great return to analog. Our convo was spurred on by some near future sci-fi I’m reading (tracks), things about London we had noticed (the city not my little one), and Caitlin’s readings about the mental health crisis among youth, particularly girls. You know, usual stuff you chat about on a sunny London walk through Mayfair. 

I was happy to see how young the audience was at Titus Andronicus. That twenty-somethings are here doing this on a Tuesday night. I wish there was more of this in the world for young audiences to attend.

The actors were committed and fearless and smart. They balanced the humor and tragedy well, making me laugh and cry. They even made a young woman on the front row LOUDLY and SLOWLY drop, I swear to god, ten-thousand COINS from her pocket one by one, followed by, I shit you not, a very large and loud EMPTY CAN. 



As in it happened TWO TIMES because she picked it all up and didn’t it all again LATER.
I couldn’t stop laughing, and my hat is off to the woman playing Titus for keeping it together. She was unbelievable tonight. 

Later, we walked back across the Millennium Bridge and talked about the show. The staging and innovation of the show reminded me of working with Chris. One thing I loved about studying and performing original practice Shakespeare with Chris and with The Grassroots Shakespeare Theater Company is how original practice challenges actors to put the show on their shoulders. No microphones, no digital lights, no music cues or backing tracks or big special effects. No hiding from the outdoor elements. Eye to eye with the audience, talking to them face to face throughout. It expands the expectations for an actor. It feels like Shakespeare is saying, “I believe you can do all of this, so do it!” I like that belief. (That was my one mention how was it?) 

A real treat were four original songs in the show by a talented duo named Burgeois & Maurice interspersed throughout the show. https://instagram.com/bourgmaurice?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

The cast sang and danced to each. The finale was a reprise of the hilarious opener. It was sung melancholy this time and took on a whole new meaning after the events of the show. They put the candles out one by one at the end during the reprise/finale. The lyrics were about standing by, watching, dancing, while Rome was burning. The women who traversed this intense show about trauma and the violent and terrible things men have done to satisfy greed sang as they blew the last candles out one by one. It was the very definition of breathtaking as the theater went completely dark and completely dead silent when the last candle went out. 

I think I very much do love this town.