Dan and Giles were at Shakespeare's Globe to see Compania Nacional De Teatro's Henry IV.
DAN: Amazing smells waft up as we cross Millennium Bridge from St Pauls. It can only be peanuts roasting gently in some kind of chocolate. It’s a wonderful childhood sense smell. Part fairground and part cinema. You are drawn to it. Central London is swarming with peanut roasting vendors. Sometimes they are selling hotdogs. From… Don’t ask. Somewhere. There’s always a mate standing close by too. Keeping the vendor uptodate on… something. The smell is enticing, the look of the men is not. Know the ones I mean? They are of the street, but not. Do they have actual homes? Surely. Where do they get their roasting carts? If this life is better here than what they left back home what must it be like back there?
GILES: In Henry IV, heir to the throne Prince Hal has left court and duty to go hang out with the rough and ready’s down the dark endz of the city. The King hasn’t seen him for months and he’s pissed about it. Good Time Hal is out on the lash with Fat Jack Falstaff and his gang of urchins. They rob, they booze, they fight, they roast peanuts. Hals a bit of a prick but of all Shakespeare’s characters, he’s the one young man you most want to be. The play’s got that 'D’you remember the night we got completely pissed and trashed my dad's boat?'-vibe about it.
DAN: The National Theatre of Mexico have come to show us how it’s done.
GILES: We’ve seen Falstaff down here before. He was black then. Spoke Swahili. Our Globe To Globe odyssey is half way through and with each play comes more clarity and more confusion. Shakespeare’s genius is like a flaming torch, yes it lights the cave but who the hell knows how it actually works? We are just glad for the light.
Woman Next To Us: “How’s your Spanish?”
Giles: “Worse than my Russian. He speaks Spanish.”
Dan: “A little. I should be able to follow.”
Woman Next To Us: “We used to bring our children here all the time. They’ve outgrown it now.” Giles- “They’ll be back.”
DAN: Thought of the day: Music. The difference between a company that uses music and one that does not is huge. The Mexican company had four musicians up on the balcony. Sergio Leon would have loved it. Because the stage is bare, no sets or curtains or spotlights it seems to make the play flow smoother, the actor doesn’t have to worry so much about making his ENTRANCE. The scene can change from the castle to the forest in one line. BUT that moment of change must be clear and bold. Music does this best. It tells us instantly- we’ve changed. Either a character has changed or a location has changed. The Mexican NT used music so well. Themes and melodies and rhythms all used to tell us the story.
GILES: There was a pigeon who loved the drums. Everytime they played she flew across from one side of the roof to the other.
DAN Next up…?
GILES: Not sure. Rapping Othello I think.
DAN We have heard the chimes at midnight G.
GILES: That we have my friend, that we have. Jesus the day that we have seen.