On Friday, I watched my first Midnight Matinee performance of Henry V, after seeing it twice already this season. You won’t find any spoilers on here, so for those who haven’t seen it yet, don’t worry. I’ve seen afternoon matinees and evening shows, but watching a performance at midnight accentuates the smaller details of a play; bringing out the comedy of the lines, but also the players and the intensity of their monologues. It seems to bring an audience and the actors closer together. It’s as if you have entered into a rehearsal room.

Heading along the river at 11pm on a Friday night, to head out to the theatre feels a little odd at first, but quite exciting, passing everyone who’s dressed up to hit the clubs and pubs, swerving out of their tipsy paths. Whilst waiting for the Theatre doors to open, loaned cushion in hand and blanket brought from home, the piazza buzzed with everybody getting drinks and food from the stalls – giving an almost festival-like atmosphere. Later on, the interval seemed to prompt everyone to get a hotdog before returning for the second half.

We’re now at our seats, and the musicians are on stage to welcome everybody in.
London seems so distant and sleepy now. With the lack of noise from the outside world each word, line and action feels crisper and pulls you further in. The call from the Chorus (Brid Brennan) for us to use our imaginations to make the story come to life seems more accessible, as if we were entering a dream. Her prologues for each of the five acts perfectly set the scene and move us between London and the fields of France.

In the second half, Henry (Jamie Parker), disguised as a common soldier amongst three others, discusses the coming battle around a campfire and uncovers that they doubt the motives and courage of the king (without recognising Henry). Come 2am, the time and setting appear so right for this scene that you could imagine yourself as being a part of that English camp awaiting the coming battle.

After a fair few comical moments of Henry trying to persuade Katherine (Olivia Ross) to marry him, with convoluted lines in English, and a few broken lines in French, we head to the end of the play. The players finish, in Globe tradition, with a jig – which seems even livelier than any other jig.

It’s now 3.30am and I’m feeling quite awake – for those who know me, this is a very rare moment past 11pm. We decided that home to bed sounded like the best option at the time, but the morning after (or rather, later that day) I loved seeing everybody else’s tweets who came along with photos of dawn, talk of breakfast, and general love for the midnight performance. I’ve selected a few tweet highlights below, and you can see our full digest on Storify.

More Midnight Matinees:

The Taming of the Shrew
3 August 2012

As You Like It
7 September 2012

 

Jack Harris
Digital Manager
@jacquesharris