I saw the Queen in Kingston last night. Really, I did. OK, not the elderly lady with a passion for headscarves and corgis who lives in Buck House. This was the Queen of stage and screen, Judi Dench. She was playing a queen too – Titania the fairy queen in Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Rose, a character said to represent Elizabeth I.
And magnificently regal she was too. It was a real privilege to see her and at just £15 for the ticket, remarkably great value.
I don’t respond well to messed-about with Shakespeare, so I was relieved that Peter Hall’s production was set in the time the play was written. I loved the sparse stage and how the atmosphere and setting were painted with clever lighting. It gave space to Shakespeare’s beautiful, lyrical words without distractions. Except for the woman sitting next to me that is…
Although she was putting up a good show (laughing in the right places, nodding sagely etc) she obviously didn’t find the play as enchanting and absorbing as I did. Her extra sensitive hearing seemed to be fined tuned to the slightest rustling of sweet wrappers from the young girls behind us.
I hadn’t even noticed and I’m usually the first to get irritated by inconsiderate noisy neighbours at the theatre or cinema. I’m sure you’ll forgive me at this point for stealing a line from the bard himself, as I feel ‘methinks the lady doth protest too much’ is entirely justified in this instance.
Her very vocal protestations were far more distracting than whatever faint sound she had detected with her bat-like sonar. “Stop that now or I shall report you to the manager,’ she trilled in a manner befitting Shakespeare’s darkest drama queen, Lady Macbeth.
I resisted from joining in by poking her in the ribs and got back to the action on stage. However, my enjoyment was punctuated by her head constantly swivelling round to glare at the poor kids behind.
Honestly, they weren’t behaving at all badly at all. In fact it was great to see teenagers enjoying Shakespeare rather than kicking around in hoodies, scaring old ladies (me) on dark stairwells in the Eden Walk car park. I only hope the old bat didn’t put them off theatre for life.
It was also great to see the theatre so packed, even if it did mean queuing to get out of the car park.
I do think we’re lucky to have The Rose: I just need to get off my bottom and go there more often.
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