Sunday, March 10, 2013

theatre notes. London edition.

 Yesterday afternoon, G. and I went to see Macbeth at the Trafalgar Studios, the former Whitehall Theatre near Trafalgar Square. Somehow I had managed to book our seats in the middle of the second row, which was honestly quite terrifying. Against the raw industrial space the Scottish play had been reimagined as something almost post-apocalyptic, with everyone in combat trousers and boots and tattered sweaters. The three witches came bursting out from trapdoors - there was a lot of bursting out from trapdoors - wearing giant aviator goggles, and for once everyone sounded (or was) Scottish. It was shockingly violent and transcendentally beautiful and, like that time I saw Amy Thone play Titus in an all-female version last year, I kind of wanted to throw up at the end.

Later that evening I went to the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square to see a play my Twitter friend Daniel Bye (himself a playwright) had recommended, If You Don't Let Us Dream, We Won't Let You Sleep. It is hard to explain what it was all about - the current economic crisis in Britain, the sense of anger and rebellion and despair, the recklessness of being pushed to your limit. A series of short, linked vignettes leads to a final moment when all the threads come together, as a band of protestors squat in a disused courthouse. It wasn't perfect, yet I loved it anyway. As with Macbeth earlier that afternoon it was like holding electricity in my bare hands.

I hadn't meant to see any plays in London, but somehow it just happened - these two, and then Harold Pinter's Old Times tomorrow night. What I love most about theatre is the sense of community that we have in Seattle, the relationship and love that has built up over more than twenty years now. It is about the people as much as it is about the plays. And yet I realize now I need this, this jolt of electricity, this experience of something that is unfamiliar and new and exciting. To see what other people are thinking and creating and feeling on this other side of the world. I feel like the Little Prince who has left his own little planet for a much larger one, for the unknown, and while the new world is an extraordinary place it still it diminishes not his love and desire for home.

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