… but not quite what you’d think.
I managed to get a ticket to watch Twelfth Night at Apollo Theatre, directed by Tim Carroll, starring Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry (*squee*). Not only did I get a spot, I managed to snag myself a stage seat!!
This play was transferred from the Globe and is the first “…to replicate the Elizabethan feel of the Globe at the Apollo, a select number of seats have been added to the stage, and from these seats you can expect a unique and up-close experience of the show.”
Me being all excited and have scoured the web for any little scrap of info I can get my hands on read that going early (specially for stage seats) is a must.
And boy,were they right.
I got to the theatre reasonably early and was actually planning to go to chinatown for a bit of a walkabout first but due to it being pissy and wet I decided to just escape the rain and read my book while I wait at the theatre foyer.
After about 10 minutes of hanging around we were let into the subsections of the theatre. Those of us who were there for stage seats were told to form a queue before entering the stage sections. I was the first in line and had quite a good chat with the 2 attendants managing the audience and selling merchandise.
Finally the doors opened and we were ushered in (while warning us that we are not to have food or drinks at our seats, or permitted to leave the seats while performance was going on) and onto the stage, weaving past actors who were actually getting dressed, warming their vocals up and putting make up on right on the stage. (Think that was what the old Shakespearean actors use to do?)
I sat at the corner of the left block of seats, right up font.
The actors were really friendly. Some of them came up to us and said hello, or at least waved and smiled at us while walking around with a sort-of thin white chemise and not much else.
Slowly one by one the major actors popped up, did their thing and disappeared again backstage… Johhny Flynn, Roger Lloyd Pack, Mark Rylance, Stephen Fry (*squeee*), etc. Piece by piece the actors got kitted-up, and finally even the props were taken away by appropriate-period-dressed stagehands (who were working like little elves all throughout the night).
4 musicians with instruments that probably would not have looked odd around 1580 started a little jig, and the show began….
I loved it.
It felt brilliant, and not too much of a stretch of imagination to feel like you’ve been transported back in time (hard wooden bench with thin seat cushion included…ouch).
From where I was sitting I was even part of the scene from time to time! Sir Toby Belch lurched around and got me to hold his goblet of wine for him, Feste the fool hid next to me behind a stage potted plant, Viola (when confronted for a fight) ran towards us and clutched our hands for help, even going so far as nearly climbing into the seats with us!
My utmost highlights would have been none other than Stephen Fry.
A fair few times he was leaning right next to me. (*squeee again*) His Malvolio seem to have been rather level headed and gentle, if maybe just a touch easily fooled. This made the subsequent pranks played on him felt cruel.
I also think all the jokes about him and dancing is probably true, based on what I saw at the dance and jigs that the entire cast had to do at the ending of the show.
There was a bit of a hiccup though.
Roger Lloyd Pack as Sir Andrew accidentally fell while “hiding” in a prop bush and was trying to run towards the doors. There was a loud bang, gasps from the audience (and myself), next thing we knew the wooden frame with him inside was upended. The stagehands rushed to help him onto his feet and staggered off with him.
That moment was supposedly the last little comedy bit before the interval. So after 15 minutes Viola came back into the stage and announced that Roger was alright, but had a nasty cut on his head so had to go to the hospital to have it checked. His understudy played his part for the 2nd half.
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and ended the evening with a nice hot bowl of tonkotsu at a ramen shop nearby.
I am so glad I decided to grab the stage seats when I can. It was definitely quite the experience.