The Lion King and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I suppose you could say it has been a weekend of rewatching things I was familiar with anew. It has been a very interesting weekend certainly. I decided to go to the cinema last night: having heard so much about the new version of The Lion King, I decided it was time to go and get it watched. Suffice to say, I wasn’t disappointed; just a few minutes in and my jaw was on the floor. The graphics are amazing. I have never seen a film so visually stunning. I was drawn in immediately, and must admit I was whisked away with the rest of the audience: the plot, the characters, the songs were just fantastic. I also really liked the self-referential flourishes in the film – the nods to the original, as though the film was playing with the fact it was a remake. I drove back from the cinema last night in awe at what I had just seen. It’s the type of film which can only be truly enjoyed on the big screen, so my decision to go was certainly a good one.

Today, though, I was in for another, even bigger treat: John and I went up to The Globe to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream. John suggested it a week or so ago, and, while J isn’t the type of chap who I thought would be into the Bard, it had been so long since I had been to the Globe that I took the offer up enthusiastically. Indeed, it must have been seven or eight years since I last went there with Lyn, Andrej and Natalia. As soon as I entered the theatre this afternoon, though, I began to ask myself why I didn’t go far more often. It really is a magnificent place, one of the jewels in London’s ever-growing crown; and with groundling tickets only five quid a pop, there’s no reason why it can’t become one of my regular haunts.

I had been slightly worried that, among the standing groundlings in front of the stage, I wouldn’t be able to see much sat in my powerchair. I needn’t have worried: I was escorted to a special platform at the front of the audience, from which I had an excellent view of the action. As for the performance itself, it really was a treat. I was roughly familiar with the play having studied it back at school, but this was something else. It was a thoroughly postmodern performance, to put it mildly, and while it stuck fairly hard to the script for dialogue, everything else seemed open to be played with, with lots of contemporary references and songs. It was a bit like something my friend Ricardio might have directed at university. There was even a reference to the Lion King, probably cued by the recent release of the remake, but giving me a nice link with yesterday. In a way, though, the postmodernity of the production felt like it suited the original text, which, after all, is quite abstract in itself, with its talking donkeys and meddling fairies. I left eager to find out more, and the website offers quite a bit of info, but I really want to delve deeper into what that company has done. That sort of contemporary production wasn’t the type of thing I’d automatically associate with the Globe, yet the actors used the space magnificently, and I left curious to know who the director was (perhaps I knew them from university). It was a really interesting new take on Shakespeare, and for the second time this weekend I came home glad that I had gone.

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