Today’s slightly surreal experience is a trip to Boscombe’s multi storey car park to watch a Shakespeare performance. Boscombe hasn’t got the best reputation; renowned for being a bit of a druggie hangout, so heading to the top floor of the car park isn’t usually a thing I would consider.
However, today it is hosting a group of actors from The Globe, for an outdoor production of Julius Caesar. So, armed with a folding chair and a waterproof jacket (this is England, after all), I set off for the car park.
Obviously it starts raining just as I depart. But it’s not too bad, and there is an awning over the seating area. Upon arrival, I am shown to my seat. Or rather, I’m shown to where to put my seat – I have my seat with me.
I love the idea of using the top of a car park for cultural events and the idea of the Globe doing a regional Tour. But the problems are thus; first, I’m not very tall and I find myself behind a couple of pretty hefty blokes, so my view is somewhat obscured. At least in a proper theatre, I have the benefit of my seat being raised from the row in front. Next, are the acoustics. The performers aren’t using microphones. I understand that this is a deliberate attempt to make the show more authentic. But to be honest, the A35 was significantly less busy in 1599 and Shakespeare didn’t have to compete to be heard over biker gangs on a jaunt to the seaside. I really have to concentrate to hear and that gives me a headache.
In addition (and I suspect this is more the fact that I didn’t listen in English lessons at school, rather than parts of the performance being drowned out by motorbikes and seagulls) I struggle to follow the plot. For example, one woman keeps deviating between a posh English accent and a Jamaican accent. At first, I can’t work out if she’s a posh English woman pretending to be Jamaican or vice versa. Or why there would be a Jamaican trying to kill Caesar? We’re about an hour into the show before I realise she is playing two parts! I think there’s another man doing the same swapping between a northern and southern English accent, but I’m not entirely sure. It hasn’t helped my headache any.
The car park is complete with bar. By the time we reach the interval, I could really do with a drink! But I have driven because I couldn’t work out a safe way to cycle carrying a camping chair. So I have to make do with a soft drink and an attempt to move my chair behind someone less substantial.
On the whole, I enjoyed the performance. I hope they continue to put events on at the Sovereign Centre, preferably with microphones. In the meantime, I won’t be going to any more Shakespeare performances without googling the plot in advance…