After spending some time at the Tower of London, I crossed the Thames and headed to Shakespeare’s Globe so that I could buy a ticket for the night’s performance of the play Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare. I knew nothing about the play and hadn’t even heard about it before looking up productions on the Globe website, but there were yard (standing) tickets available for only £5 (~$7.72 USD). There’s actually 700 of those £5 tickets available for each performance, so it’s a good option if you want to see a play in London on a limited budget.
Before I move on, I feel like it is necessary to point out that this is not the original Globe Theatre from the Shakespearean days and this is a recreation based on past evidence of what the old Globe might have looked like. This theatre was actually founded by an American actor and director, Sam Wanamaker, who had moved to Great Britain after being put on the Hollywood blacklist. The theatre opened in 1997 and has been showcasing Shakespeare’s productions ever since.
I was still early for the 7 PM show, so I decided to go for a walk, crossing the Millennium Bridge and ending up at St. Paul’s Cathedral before heading back.
The stage was decorated pretty nicely. It didn’t rain while the play was running, which was great since it is an open air theatre and those standing in the pit would definitely have gotten soaked. We weren’t able to take pictures before the play started, but were allowed during the intermission.
As for the play itself, it had a mix of comedy and drama and the acting was very good. Apparently, Measure for Measure is one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays” (the other two being All’s Well That Ends Well and Troilus and Cressida, two more plays that I had not heard of before). Problem plays earn that name for being harder than other plays to define as a strict comedy or tragedy.
Here is the Globe’s description of the play, to give you a brief synopsis:
Vincentio, Duke of Vienna, disgusted by the immorality in his city, announces his withdrawal from public life and leaves his deputy, the puritanical Angelo, in charge. Angelo, in his zeal for observing the letter of the law, begins a ruthless programme to stamp out sexual licence, in the course of which he condemns one Claudio to death. Surely Claudio’s virginal sister Isabella, a novice nun seeking mercy for her brother, could not awake the lust of this cold, censorious man?
Injustice, hypocrisy and the challenge of inflexible virtue combine in Shakespeare’s most searching exploration of sexual politics and social justice.
Kind of spoilery, so avoid reading the rest of this paragraph if you would prefer to read or watch the play yourself: I thought the ending kind of cleaned itself up way too nicely, where everything just happens to work out for everyone. At this production (and I don’t know if this happens at every production), the whole thing ended with all the characters dancing together like none of the drama between them even existed. It was entertaining, but also a little weird.
When I got back to my hostel, I decided to add one more night to my stay in London.