In the closing scenes of Richard III at the Globe, both the living and the dead clamour to snuff out the increasingly maniacal Richard at Bosworth. His soon-to-be successor Richmond grabs Richard (Mark Rylance) by the back of the pants as Rylance lunges away from him, out over the edge of the stage, looks me, of all people, in the eye, and hisses, feverishly, and through gritted teeth, ‘Hiiiiide meeeee…..’
It’s my first time seeing a performance at the Globe (though I’ve been on the tour), and the ‘back to basics’ of the venue, and this production in particular, is thrilling, all spit and frayed costumes, whoops and hollers, men playing women. As the court goes into hysteria at the news of Clarence’s death, their shrieks compete with the sound of a plane soaring over London. As quiet resumes, a handful of dandelion down falls from the sky. For some reason it moves me almost to tears. And all this for a fiver. (The ale at the interval cost more than the ticket).
The longest play after Hamlet is typically ruthlessly abridged, as here, so it’s more like the slick, fast, and oh-so-hilarious real-life Macbeth you always want it to be. The second half in particular is a steamroller of dark comedy, Rylance’s incorrigible bumpkin façade splits evermore to show the murderous, heartless crank beneath, and I’m down in the pit, one person away from the stage, with my heart in my mouth and the dead Richard’s crown landing on the ground beside me.