The Respect Agenda

Much Ado About Nothing, The Globe, 21 July 2011

A second look at the Globe’s Much Ado (soon to be followed by a very necessary third view) provided another example of cast bravery in the face of torrential rain besides that recently displayed on a very wet Sunday by the cast of All’s Well.

The weather was fine up until the interval, but in the second half, just around the point where Hero was rejected at the altar, the rain bucketed down with such intensity that the cast looked up at the sky in wonder.

The staging required the Sexton to sit on a stool far beyond the protection of the heavens. He looked at the spot where he was supposed to sit with his ledger, saw it being scoured by the downpour and reluctantly sat under the torrent. A wave of sympathy went out to him both from the audience and the cast under the canopy.

Eve Best, whose Beatrice was perhaps the production’s main attraction, had a superb moment where she turned meteorological adversity into theatrical greatness.

As she raged against Claudio and his despicable treatment of Hero, she rushed to the front of the stage and, countering the storm with some storming of her own, punched the air screaming “I would eat his heart in the market-place”.

The furious passion of her speech, made even more dramatic by being delivered in the teeth of torrential rain, drew loud cheers from the audience.

This performance also provided an example of an unfortunate downside of the Globe yard: noisy spectators.

The Globe is a theatre and also, by dint of its location on the Southbank, a tourist attraction. The absurdly cheap £5 yard tickets, while a boon for the majority, foster an attitude among an element of the audience that the theatre is a trifling, low-cost amusement rather than a serious theatrical undertaking.

On this occasion a tourist from western Europe, who had previously drawn attention to himself by trying to jump the queue into the yard, insisted on talking loudly almost continuously through the performance. Cast members occasionally went to the side of the stage nearest to his location and shouted their lines at him in attempt to snap him out of his conversation.

But the most galling part was when he decided that the performance was of so little interest to him and his chat with his friend of such greater importance that he attempted to talk over the top of the cast, drowning out the performance like it was extraneous noise.

It takes all sorts. But a rise in the price of the Globe’s dirt cheap yard tickets could generate a greater degree of respect for the venue and the valuable, high-quality work it produces.

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