On Friday 3 August I attended the Midnight Matinee of The Taming of the Shrew with my friend Eva.
After a much needed power nap I headed out to the Globe. It was quite strange going out on a train that was mostly bringing people home. To wake myself up I put on my iPod, and probably sang along a little too loudly to my chirpiest tunes.
Having worked at the Globe for a few years, I have attended several Midnight Matinees. I have always enjoyed them, and the post-show delirium. This time was going to be a little different as it was Eva’s first Midnight Matinee and we planned to have breakfast at the Swan. In the past I have watched the sun rise over the river with a sleepy cast and crew, whilst we battle it out for the last (veggie) sausage in a bun.
Arriving a little early gave me a chance to get a much needed coffee and people watch from the riverside. I love seeing how people interact with the space, and catching snatches of conversations from excited audience members waiting patiently by the Groundling gates.
The Globe, especially at night, with the buzz of a show in the air never fails to make me proud. I delight in the eager anticipation of first timers and bask in the community spirit fostered by regular attendees. This evening was especially lovely, as during the Olympic period the whole of Bankside is beautifully illuminated at night.
I experienced a lovely moment of ‘online meets offline’ when I recognised a regular Twitter follower and said hello. As Digital Officer, and ‘Twitter queen’ I find this quite exciting – meeting the people that I ‘tweet’ at, especially when they turn out to be so nice. So if you see me, or any other Globe staff, do come and say hello.
Eva and I had come prepared with blankets, hats and scarves, anticipating it to be chilly standing in an outdoor theatre at 2am, but we were lucky that this August evening behaved itself and was actually very mild.
Even after all this time, I find walking into the theatre for a show absolutely thrilling. I was already really looking forward to seeing the play as it is one of my favourites and I had heard good things about it, but I was overwhelmed by the conviviality and warmth radiating from the audience. Mike Britton’s set, a kind of lime washed wooden balcony structure, positively glowed.
I was totally engaged throughout the tight, funny and knowing production. Samantha Spiro was an excellent Katherina, a little powerhouse of frustrated feminism and quick wit who sparred brilliantly with Simon Paisley Day’s Petruchio; charismatic and charming despite his actions.
Pearce Quigley’s Grumio was a welcome familiar face, a man so dry he’d catch alight just looking at a candle. Also returning to the Globe stage was the lovely Joseph Timms as Lucentio whose saccharine wooing was nicely balanced by Jamie Beamish’s prancing, Noel Fielding-esq Tranio.
I felt there was not a weak performance among the whole cast. You might expect them to flag a little with a show running through the night but I think it just spurred them on as their energy and sense of enjoyment was palpable. As often at the Globe there were knowing pauses and glances to the audience but they felt particularly relevant in this play, so often cited as being anti-women in its message, yet, here, I felt, played with irony.
I am a proud feminist and yet this is one of my favourite of all Shakespeare’s plays. It could be down to my fiercely feminist English A-Level teacher and her reading of the play, or maybe I just choose to take the whole thing as a double bluff. Instead of being broken by it, Samantha Spiro’s Katherina sees Petruchio’s ‘wooing’ as a way to get her own back, and expose the wheedling false charm of her sister Bianca, the icily beautiful Sarah MacRae.
We could feel that Katherina has given up her fight, but it is with pride and confidence that, at the end of the play, she looks toward Petruchio, who is, as cited by the Merriam-Webster online Dictionary truly her partner, ‘’one of two or more persons who play together in a game against an opposing side.’’
The play finished around 3am and by this point were surprisingly hungry and therefore very grateful that the Swan were laying on a choice of delicious breakfast items. In error I had forgotten to book a table and at one point it looked unlikely that we would be able to eat, but thankfully a table soon became free.
Eva and I both decided to have the cooked breakfast. Being a vegetarian, the meat items on my dish were substituted for… a Danish pastry. But I didn’t miss them as the Legbar eggs; grilled mushroom, beans and fried bread were incredibly tasty and filling.
It was lovely to be able to discuss the play over a civilised meal in the beautiful setting of the Swan (thoughtfully lit with low lights and candles) before our trek back along the river to the station. It ended the evening perfectly and eased us into the next day.
As Eva said ”Seeing Shakespeare with the stars shining through the Globe roof was wonderful. As was our 3am full English breakfast by the river.” We’ve already got our tickets for As You Like It on 7 September, will we see you there?
Sian-Estelle Petty, Digital Officer