The Scottish Play, the Russian Play and Lowe in Basingstoke

Ah, it’s always fun to hit the Globe; I had missed their Macbeth earlier, so was glad to have a chance to catch it before it ended. The staging was a bit more elaborate than the usual plain stage: there was a double ring with chains and drapery over the stage, and a kind of bib stretching out from the stage itself, which had holes cut in it to allow the mostly young groundlings to put their heads through. It also allowed the three witches (pictured left) to sneak up behind them and make them shriek. This set the tone: it was a gruesomely bloody production that emphasized the violence. I liked that the witches were always around, so you had more of a sense of their orchestrating all the events. A very enjoyable production that seldom lagged.

Another stop at the NT is hard to resist when they have the Travelx £10 tickets. I had already seen the set for Mikhail Bulgakov’s The White Guard during the back stage tour and was looking forward to seeing it in action. I had no idea that there were a few sets between which the action switched. The main location, the Turbin’s home, was a wonderful evocation of early 20th century Russia, but I had no idea how quickly the entire set could roll away and be replaced with succeeding sets, even an underground bunker. Bulgakov’s play deals with the horrors of war and its pointlessness, but with a great deal of humour and tenderness as well as anger. Very enjoyable. Even more enjoyable was coming out of the theatre in the midst of the England-Slovenia match, so the streets were completely empty and there was no traffic to fight while cycling through Waterloo. Whoo hoo!

Thursday was Basingstoke and Nick Lowe. His opening act was part of his band: Geraint Watkins. The good-natured singer and keyboardist ambled through a few songs accompanied by clarinet and saxophonist Martin Willing (I think?) that really pleased the audience. Later Lowe dueted with Watkins on “Only a Rose.” Lowe was his usual low key self with the big shock of white hair and thick horn-rimmed glasses. He hit songs old and new like the yearning “Long Limbed Girl” and “I Trained Her to Love Me” (which he called “evil”) from At My Age and older songs like acoustic versions of “Heart” and “The Beast in Me” as well as a really romping version of “I Knew the Bride” and wonderfully moving rendition of “What’s so Funny ’bout Peace Love and Understanding?” Wonderful show — worth the trip!

Yesterday, of course, was the disastrous loss of the England team, or as the Express headline I saw on the Tube said, “YOU LET YOUR COUNTRY DOWN.” Worse, I lost £10 betting on them and Germany was just a much much better team. At least I got treated to a drink to make up for losing 🙂

It’s outrageously hot in London. I cam back in the middle of the afternoon and took a bath I felt so grotty. Where are my grey skies and cool breezes?