After the disappointment of last year’s cancelled trips, the Upper Sixth English A Level classes were thrilled to be London-bound last Tuesday evening. Where were we headed? Shakespeare’s Globe to watch Twelfth Night.
The A Level course requires students to evaluate different interpretations of the play and what better way than to see a performance in the theatre that most closely replicates Shakespeare’s. We were able to get up close and personal to the action as ‘groundlings’ – standing in what is called the pit of the theatre. The freedom to move to different vantage points enabled us to compare how different moments of the play were portrayed depending on where we stood.
As ever, it was the comic sub-plot that garnered most laughs with a larger-than-life Sir Toby carousing his (her) way through the performance. We wondered how much actual beer was consumed! Malvolio, with ludicrous Elvis-quiff, was a figure of pathos in the end. Duped into wearing an outrageous sequinned yellow body-stocking to win his lady’s love (never going to happen!), we all felt that his treatment at the end of the play was too cruel. Most impressively, the actor playing Feste had broken a bone in her foot but played on – her crutches and reduced mobility becoming part of the comedy as if it were always intended. We puzzled at some choices made by the company – most notably their interpretation of Sebastian, and the Elizabethan costumes of the twins in an otherwise 20th Century setting.
That said, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the topsy-turvy world of the play in which nothing is what it seems, and it was great to be back in the theatre watching Shakespeare live again.