An Inspector Calls
After returning to London safely and checking into our lodgings for the longest stretch of the trip, we went to The Playhouse Theatre to enjoy J.B. Priestly’s renowned play, An Inspector Calls. This eerie play tells the tale of an aristocratic family at the turn of the 20th century and their involvement in the death of a young woman. It is not until a police inspector comes to the door and question them do they realize the weight of their actions brought on by their extravagant lifestyle. Priestly’s play explores not only interclass treatment and interactions but also the equal treatment of all members of society. In discussion, we explored these ideas in the quaint Christ Church in Kensington.
The Globe Theatre
After our morning class we made our way across the Thames to Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. We had the chance to talk with an experienced Shakespearean actor and professor, and were given the opportunity to understand the actor’s point of view from the stage. The stage itself was a spectacle lined with thick Roman columns and ceilings painted with gods and Zodiac symbols. One felt transported back to Shakespeare’s time. Prompted with a line to speak onstage, group members showed their true colors in their acting chops only to then be strengthened with a workshop focusing on Shakespeare’s use of language in his plays.
Love’s Labours Lost
A perfect way to top off our visit to the Globe, was viewing a production of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost at the Royal Haymarket Theatre. Of all the performances so far, our seats for this show were by far the best. We got to see the stage from the orchestra pit of this great theater. This production was set in pre-WWI Europe (Navarre). It begins with four young men swearing an oath to hold themselves up in a castle for three years in order to become great scholars. In addition to vowing to sleep and eat less so that they could focus on learning, they swear to abstain from the company of women. Ironically, the moment this oath is made, the Princess of France and her three ladies arrive. Of course, the men immediately fall in love with them, challenging their oath. Chaos and misinformation ensue only to give a sour final note to a lighthearted story as the men go off to war. Later this week, we are seeing Much Ado About Nothing, another Shakespeare comedy. Much Ado will be presented by the same theater company (event the same cast) as Love’s Labours Lost. The two plays are meant to be a double-feature of sorts. Much Ado will be set right after WWI, as the men come back from the war. We’re excited to see how the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Much Ado About Nothing adds to and complicates Love’s Labours Lost.