The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0494 Tuesday, 23 May 2006
From: David Crystal <
Date: Tuesday, 23 May 2006 10:44:57 +0100
Subject: 17.0481 A Roof on the Globe?
Comment: Re: SHK 17.0481 A Roof on the Globe?
Well, regardless of the issue of whether the Globe was right to do it, I
have to report that the opening night of Titus last Saturday was a
triumph, judging by the eruption of applause from the full house at the
end. The most striking feature of the production, to my mind, was the way
so much of the action was moved into the yard. The opening political
exchanges are carried out by the actors on moveable towers which are
wheeled about and used again at various points in the play. The arrival of
Titus carried by prisoner Goths on a palanquin is made through the yard.
The hunt scene takes place to and fro across the yard. A large net is
dropped down into the yard from the front of the stage to form the pit
into which Bassianus et al. are thrown. And so on. It was the most
creative use of the yard space I have ever seen. And the groundlings loved
it. A message on a board warned them on arrival that they would have to do
a lot of moving around, and they certainly did. Indeed, I saw a couple of
them join in the hunt! I say 'them'. Next time I see it I'm definitely
going in the yard.
To relate this to the topic of this thread: I think the roofing effect
works extremely well. You have to realize that it isn't functioning on its
own. The back of the stage is entirely swathed in black. As are the
columns. Smoke rises in the yard. The triangles of material which form the
valerium reinforce all this, especially as our attention it drawn so much
to what is going on in the yard. To me they seemed like the fingers of an
ominous claw, pressing down on the action - and on us. The audience wasn't
allowed in until ten minutes before the play went up, and the initial
effect was quite startling. The general reaction I heard around me was
So, if you get the chance, see it. I predict it will be one of the most
talked-about performances that the Globe has put on, for its design and
directorial innovation alone. I could go on about the excellent cast and
the haunting music and the unexpected moments of high comedy and... but
this would be off-topic. Yet I should at least mention them, for, after
all, the play's the thing. And this is indeed a Titus to remember.
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