Review: Public Enemy, Young Vic
A bit of Tanzi Libre and Southwark Playhouse's new space

The Groundling experience at The Globe

I blame Colin Morgan, I wouldn't have gone back to The Globe otherwise. It's been such a long time since he was on stage and he was playing one of my favourite Shakespearean characters: Ariel.

So why 'groundling*'? Well after paying nearly 40 quid to sit on a hard bench too far back from the stage for my liking I decided it couldn't be any worse.

My ideal was to be leaning on the stage to ease the burden of standing but the Colin Morgan fans have more energy and enthusiasm for early queuing than I and although I got there 50 minutes before curtain up, I had two rows of people standing in front of me.

The advantage of being a groundling is that you are sometimes in the midst of the action as the actors not so much break the fourth wall as leap through it and down into the audience. You are also closer to the stage than the seats will ever get you at The Globe so you do get to see the sweat on the actors brow sometimes.

But I can't say that those advantages made the experience any better than sitting in a proper seat near the front of the stage in a conventional theatre.

First of all you have a restricted view. If the actors are lying on the stage a little way back you can't really see them as you are too low down and the stage is quite high. And, as it's a big stage there is inevitably a tall person in one of your sight-lines. I don't like having to strain to see past someone's head, constantly shifting position to get the best view, you inevitably miss stuff.

Secondly, standing still does take its strain; it's not like being at a gig when you can jiggle around a bit (dancing some people call it). After about an hour my lower back was starting to ache and by the interval my hip felt like knitting needles were being inserted into it.

I was lucky, it was a nice day so I didn't have adverse elements adding to the 'experience'. And it was an experience that I'm glad I've had. Once.  But, saving a casting of probably one of four actors it's one I won't be repeating.

* 'Groundling' is the term used for those paying a fiver to stand in the area imediately around the stage at The Globe Theatre. It is open to the elements, so if it rains you get wet.