Exhausted from nearly four miles of aimlessly walking the streets of London, I was rather quiet in the car as my Uber Driver Vasile drove me back to the hotel. In the brief moments we did speak, I told him I would be heading to Wales this Friday. He asked if I were visiting a friend there. “No, I have no friends in the UK,” I said with a half-hearted laugh. “I thought you were visiting a friend,” he replied.
This conversation got me thinking. Although I had no friends here in the UK in the formal sense of the word, I was part of a family of lovers of history, of literature, of London.
The day started as I was speaking with the receptionist at the Hyatt Place. He said his name was Caesar, “and this is my colleague Augustine,” he motioned to the young woman standing next to him. I looked at him with a big grin, “seriously?” I asked. Caesar and Augustine? “Do you have a Marc Antony working here, too?” I asked. Augustus Caesar, 1/3 of the second triumvirate ruling from behind the front desk at the Hyatt Place. This is going to be a historical day.
From Romans, to friends, to countrymen, this was the start of a day full of reconstructed history, and I loved every minute of it. This was the day I would fulfill the core purpose of my sabbatical: see a Shakespearean play performed in the reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre in which Shakespeare, himself, watched his plays performed.
Here is my his(her?)story…
Saddle-sore from my lengthy ride within the power of the 121 horse-drawn Prius, I thank the kindly Uber driver Sultan (what a regal name) for seeing me to my destination safely and wish him a good morrow. Or some old speak like that.
I had arrived, The Globe Theater on my left, and the ale house of yore, the Starbucks Pub, on my right. Having two hours before the start of Taming of the Shrew, I allow myself to be led by the crowd walking alongside the Thames. Up a set of stairs I end up on the Millennial bridge…it’s not called that? But what of all the millennials I saw? Ok, so I end up on the Millennium Bridge.
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t!”
― William Shakespeare, The Tempest
I do not want to cross the bridge, so I stop and lean against the rail, thinking of the great poets, musicians, playwrights, and actors who once walked this same ancient bridge. I take in the sights and sounds. Indeed, “beauteous mankind” shows itself to me as I witness The King’s Men performing on the streets as they had back in the day.
When people refer to ‘Back in the Day,’ it was a Wednesday. Just a little fun fact for you.
The traditional moving statue performance—
But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and…
Yoda is the sun? Yoda? Yes, the great performance of hovering Yoda from The War of Stars.
Ooh, and there sits a poet penning his verses.
Perhaps this is Master Shakespeare, himself?
Parched from my travels and a bit overwhelmed by the crowds of people, I find a vendor and order a half pint of cider, sitting myself down upon the grass.
What a refreshing change being able to sit on the ground without red ants biting my arse.
I watch the “goodly creatures” relaxing and children playing, and listen to the traditional Sir Justin of Bieber’s “Love Yourself” sung by the troubadour playing his lute.
At last, performance time. And I have to break from my most authentic Shakespearean English to say, wow!
This play has always been problematic for me—all that’s missing from Petruchio’s torture of Kate is waterboarding. But I absolutely loved this performance. Kate was vicious, stubborn, and beautiful—beautiful even when covered in mud (I loved how she dirtied her dress standing in the pool of water). And Petruchio? He was vicious, stubborn, and absolutely beautiful. I would most definitely say the moon was the sun, the sun the moon, if Edward MacLiam’s Petruchio desired this of me.
The performance sadly ending, I choose to wander the streets of London, as I said earlier, nearly four miles of aimless walking, pondering about the play, and thinking to myself, “damn, I’m hungry.” Thus, I order my Uber and return to my hotel.
On this day, London had shared with me her friends, her Romans, her countrymen, and while no one lent me their ears, that MacLiam lent me the vision of his beautiful nose for a time.
–An American Introvert in London