The Midnight Matinee series is now over for the year but we have captured the experience of each one in our blog. The final production in the series, As You Like It was given a sparkling write up by regular Globe attendee and passionate tweeter Emma Holland.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that my first visit to The Globe to see the 2010 production of Henry IV changed my life. It was my first proper theatre visit and since then it’s become my passion. I’ve been to hundreds of plays at theatres around the country since then and enjoyed every minute. But coming back to The Globe always feels special. It’s a theatrical experience unlike any other, and I feel nowhere more at home than when I’m a Groundling.
A Midnight Matinee is a particularly amazing experience. The atmosphere is so unique that even when I’ve seen a production before I know it’ll be totally different when performed at the witching hour. So although I’d seen the Globe’s touring production of As You Like it seven times before (which is, I know, a little bit crazy – but it really was a brilliant production!) I was very excited to be seeing the Midnight Matinee. I was interested to see how the production might change. The play is set in the bright and beautiful Forest of Arden, and is widely thought to be one of Shakespeare’s lightest, breeziest comedies, so I was excited to see the contrast between this setting and the late hour.
I went along with my usual theatrical partner-in-crime, @curlybeach, but the beauty of a Midnight Matinee is that it tends to attract so many regular Groundlings that most of the queue already know each other. If there’s someone we don’t know, they’re soon welcomed into the fold! Despite it being so late that most people we encountered were on their way home, it was a merry queue that awaited the opening of the gates. We enjoyed a few glasses of Jacques cider in honour of the great Lady herself, for in this production, she is a Lady, played with swooping magnificence by the marvellous Emma Pallant. And we were not disappointed. The production was absolutely wonderful.
We barely stopped laughing, unless it was to “aww” over Deirdre Mullins’ adorable Rosalind, or cheer as Will Featherstone’s Orlando triumphed over Charles the Wrestler; or to wolf-whistle the exploits of Will Mannering’s brilliant Touchstone. The entire cast seemed to be relishing the experience as much as we were. Will Mannering especially played up to the raucous, excitable crowd and at one point grabbed an unsuspecting (and slightly embarrassed!) Globe Steward to take part in a scene!
Other performers made brilliant use of the unique atmosphere to change and deepen their performance. The infamous Seven Ages of Man speech was even more spine-tingling than usual as Emma Pallant imbued it with a melancholic poignancy that perfectly suited the velvety-black sky. I swear a chilly breeze whistled through the crowd as she reached the “cannon’s mouth” line. I’d seen it many times before, but it felt so different that I was moved to tears, and I wasn’t alone. It was a very special moment to be part of.
Watching a show at The Globe is always enjoyable, but seeing it under the stars, then tumbling out of the gate in the wee small hours of the morning to see the city lights reflected in the Thames was truly a magical experience; and one I’ll never forget. The atmosphere was truly unmissable, with cast and audience embracing the unique opportunity to enjoy one of Shakespeare’s loveliest, liveliest plays in this beautiful setting. I’m already looking forward to the next Midnight Matinee I get a chance to go to, and I’d highly recommend that everyone goes to one next season – you’ll end up as hooked as I am!
Tell Emma what you thought of As You Like It on Twitter: @Emslj