A Groundling in the Mad World of King John

Mad world! 
Mad Kings! 
Mad Composition!
-The Bastard, King John

The cast of King John. 
Photo from -> here.

No one can argue the sheer brilliance and greatness of a man named William Shakespeare, regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. His most known plays such as Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, Othello and many others have been adapted into modern plays, books, or even shown in the cinemas. 

King John is now brought to The Shakespeare's Globe for a rare and very timely occasion.This is a first to stage the play, and now all plays made by Shakespeare will have been performed at the Globe. This will also mark the 800th year of the Magna Carta which was signed on 15th June 1215. 

The synopsis:
Richard the Lionheart is dead. His less than heroic brother, John, is determined to keep his grasp on the English throne, in spite of the stronger claims of his nephew, the young Prince Arthur. Increasingly threatened by Arthur’s supporters at home and in France, John finds the answer to his woes: he will blind the boy with hot irons.

When I was offered a chance to attend this play for a Blogger Event, I did not think twice. It helped that there was a complimentary drink included with the ticket, but I could not let the opportunity to witness the characters up-close and personal as a 'groundling.' Together with my blogger friend Hazel, we went inside the Shakespeare's Globe for the first time. (Unfortunately, photos were not allowed inside the open-air theatre, but I still managed to get a few snaps before I got told off!)

On the left, free ticket+free beer = Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
On the right, a fraction of the packed house plus a glimpse of the bluest sky.

We were officially 'groundlings' once we stood in the yard as were  the audience members who stood in the yard of the original Globe. Too bad I wasn't wearing a proper 'commoner' garb from the era.

The Groundlings.

The historical setting in the 1200s was executed beautifully, be it from the intricate costume details or the equally stunning musical band. I could not decide which I loved more: the clockwork-like sword fights between England and France; or the cursing and litanies of the Cardinal. The wailing of Constance can hold the crowd's breath, as much as the sweet pleas of the young King Arthur and poor Blanche.

The Globe after the play.

The most prominent character all throughout not named King John was the Bastard. He portrays Shakespeare's dark comedy and political commentary with fantastic control and mastery. His interactions with the crowd especially the 'groundlings' were memorable. The fact that his character is known as 'the Bastard' is a winner from any angle.

I have witnessed musical plays in theatres such as LĂ©s Miserables, Phantom of the Opera or the latest rendition of Miss Saigon. But there is such a far more exquisite and different flavour a Shakespearean play brings. James Dacre's production is a must-see event. I have never fully appreciated a Shakespeare play at this level. It was simply strong and clear delivery, as strong as the Bastard's punch lines. The genius in the writing is shown in the twists, turns and the beautifully woven language and songs. 

The thrill of witnessing this kind of spectacle is accessible to a wider audience. For as low as £5 per ticket, the audience members will be able to stand in the yard of the original Globe and are rewarded with some of the best views in the house. They are available to anybody, currently one of the cheapest theatre tickets in the country.

If you want to see more of the mad world, mad kings, and mad composition in The Shakespeare's Globe, now's the time to do it. Check the website here -> The Globe, and be a groundling!

Biggest thanks to Tint for the opportunity and to Shakespeare's Globe for the brilliant show and hospitality. 

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