Luna Gale at Hampstead Theatre

Hampstead Theatre 2

Recently I attended a performance of Luna Gale written by Rebecca Gilman at  Hampstead theatre, London. Catching those who  fall through the cracks is the part of the role of Caroline the main character in Luna Gale her attempts take her to the edge where her job is at risk but she does what she does because she cares, too much? Government or departmental policy is shown to be far from fit for purpose with troubled teenagers falling through the cracks. 

The play tackled some very serious themes with great care and reminded me about my last experience of watching something in a theatre that is not a typical or expected topic Glasgow Girls by Cora Bissett comes to mind. Both productions cover topics that are brought to life by giving us a view into the lives of those who should expect to be protected but through no fault of their own the system fails them.

Watching with me was Ileshageisha who also enjoyed the play and pointed out the repeating theme of wholeness, several characters employed different solutions in an attempt to feel whole, relying on religious experiences or synthetic stimulants. This was further reinforced when the pastor in the play prayed for the main character and made a reference to her feeling whole again following some very powerful revelations regarding her own past. The cast highly skilled at bringing to life the complex drivers involved in the issues of when the state has to step in to ensure the most vulnerable member of a family, a baby (Luna Gale) requires assistance. The set backdrop of grey box files underlined that feeling of an overload system bursting at the seams.

A few years ago I read “The sweetest Swing in Baseball” by Gilman which I really enjoyed but unfortunately didn’t manage to catch on stage. So I was very happy to see another example of her work. Having enjoyed Luna Gale and the important journey it took the audience on it’s definitely a play I would recommend.

King John @ The Globe

Recently I was at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London to see King John on a lovely summer evening. I had arrived from across the River via the Millennium Bridge which was bustling with early evening pedestrian traffic.

Looking up at the clear blue sky from inside the theatre reassured me that rain was unlikely and that having a standing ticket was going to give me a very different perspective of the performance I was about to see.

Globe 1

Although I knew that the current site of the Globe wasn’t situated on the exact site of the original Globe looking around the theatre there was a strong sense of history enhanced by my memories of watching the film “Shakespeare in Love” and a recent trip to the Museum of London where I saw several recreations of medieval London.

The £5 standing tickets that lilacblossoming and I were trying out are known as Groundlings tickets, which is what the audience members who stood in the yard of the original Globe were known as, paying a penny (often a day’s wage) to stand close to the stage. What you get from this location in the theatre is an opportunity to see the costumes close up, be in close proximity to the characters and if you are very lucky interact with the some of the characters. You need to get in early if you the opportunity to make eye contact during the passionate speeches made by cast members. We were very happy to stand at the edge of the standing area and rest our backs on the outer wall, getting a good overview of the action, the dramatic entrances and exits of the cast as they rushed off to battle or travelled to England or France.

Before arriving I knew very little about the play except that it was one of the more obscure Shakespearean plays. As a seasoned theatre goer what at I enjoyed about the performances at the Globe was the energy of the actors as they worked hard to entertain the crowd, the story involved deception, treachery, comedy and some very good sword fighting scenes. The fact the audience is so close added a special dimension to the dynamics of the performances.  At times it felt like we were members of the wider court, involved in the action and amplifying the emotions conveyed by a great cast. Another benefit of our location meant that we had the opportunity to get a good view of the great costumes and rich fabrics. I am reliably informed that the wardrobe at the Globe attempt to create authentic costumes down to the undergarments!

As a taster of what the performance space at the Globe Theatre has to offer King John was a great show. It’s on for the rest of June and I would recommend going to see if you can. There are many other plays on at the Globe on this summer leading up to October and I hope to catch one or two of them perhaps from a seated position…

P.S. I came across this link about the strong female characters within the play.

Dazzle ship – HMS President, London

Recently aboard the HMS President I learnt all about Dazzle ships when attending the 1418Now drinks reception. The HMS president is moored on the River Thames by the Embankment in central London. We heard talks from Professor Chris Wainwright of University Arts London and the ships Captain, Chris Cooper who also took us on a tour of the Ship.

Ships were camouflaged with a range of dazzle paintings during the First World War making it difficult for the enemy, particularly U-boats to determine which direction ships were travelling in. Making it impossible for them to plot the launch of the few missiles they carried on board. Several hundred ships a week were being sunk a week during the war. This action helped to reduce fatalities and enable vital supplies to reach mainland Britain which was fast running out of supplies.

As one of the last three surviving warships of the Royal Navy built during the First World War, the HMS President (1918), the first type of warship built specifically for anti-submarine warfare, was originally ‘dazzled’ in this way.

Source: HMS President website

It was very interesting to learn that the team used to attached the artwork (by the artist Tobias Rehberger) to the body of the ship was also responsible for the Mega poster of the Royal Family hung over the Sea Merchants building. It was hard to miss at the time!