Let's thank the Globe for an authentically awful view

There's no excuse for asking audience members to pay for a poor sightline



I wasn’t going to return to the issue of not being able to see in some seats in numerous theatres and opera houses. After all, I highlighted this two weeks ago and reported last week about the emails from readers I then received adding their complaints to mine. But how can I resist coming back to the issue, when this week has seen the head of Shakespeare’s Globe make such a mind-boggling, jaw-dropping, eye-watering admission.

The normally estimable, and I suppose commendably honest, Dominic Dromgoole was speaking of the newly opened Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe, an indoor venue, based on a Jacobean playhouse, and lit by candlelight. It recently staged The Duchess of Malfi starring Gemma Arterton.

Mr Dromgoole said in an interview with The Stage newspaper : “Some of the sightlines are s**t. You have to make a choice about whether you’re going to be like every other theatre in the contemporary world or true to the architecture of that moment many years ago. There are 2,000 theatres built every year and they’re all trying to be like each other and conforming to some odd idea of what is right. We had to try to build according to principles of what it was like then, and then deal with it.”

I would love to have been a fly on the wall at the Globe’s planning meeting for the new venue. Did it go something like this?

Mr Dromgoole: “The sightlines will be s**t, but at least they will be authentic s**t.” Globe box-office manager: “That’s fine, boss, should we tell paying audiences that their seats will be s**t, or just let it be a s**t surprise?” Mr Dromgoole: “Let the authenticity steal upon them, as it were.” Box-office manager: “It’s just that, how can I put it, you know these whingeing audiences, if they’re not complaining about lack of parking and toilets, they’re moaning about not being able to see or hear. There’s just no pleasing some people. The really pernickety ones might feel a bit cheated, might feel that seeing Miss Arterton was not much to ask for their hard-earned money.” Mr Dromgoole: “Cheated! I have never heard such nonsense. We have spent years raising money from philanthropists to provide these shit sightlines. Tell them to show a bit of gratitude.”

But perhaps Mr Dromgoole has a point. Perhaps we should be “true to the architecture of that moment many years ago.” Perhaps we should also be true to the crime, poverty and disease. I’m sure that the Globe could arrange to make the journey home quite exciting in that regard. You can’t have too much authenticity, after all.

Or perhaps we should simply take the best and most memorable aspects of the period, which certainly includes theatre architecture, and adapt it so that the very basic essentials of an evening at a theatre in 2014 are catered for.

And the most basic of basic essentials is being able to see the performance.

The critics were strangely quiet about ‘JamAIca INN’

And now, on to not being able to hear. One odd thing strikes me about the furore over the sound quality in the BBC adaptation of Jamaica Inn. Be it a technical issue or actors mumbling, thousands of viewers complained that they could not hear. Yet, I read the reviews in the daily papers, and none of the critics seemed to mention this problem. They would have written their reviews before the sound quality/mumbling controversy erupted. So they just told it as they saw it and heard it, and heard it they clearly did. Do TV critics have better hearing than the viewing public, or have they simply become immune to mumbling?

In honour of an actor who never phoned it in, even in interview

Interviewing stars can often be a disappointment. Comedians turn out to be dour, actors who are serene on screen turn out to be short-tempered and cheeky chappies emerge as boringly formal. Bob Hoskins, who died this week, was a real  exception. He had the same direct, cockney  humour off screen as he did on. When I met him I told him I had heard he received quite a lot of what used to be called “knicker mail”. Was he ever tempted? “Nah,” he chuckled. “Am I going to risk my marriage for some soppy cow who can’t keep her drawers on?” I also mentioned to him the “It’s good to talk” adverts he did for BT. “You know something,” he replied, “it made BT £287m profit in one year, and they wouldn’t even give me a mobile phone, no I’m serious, not even a mobile phone.” He told it like it was.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - North West

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - South West

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator - IT - Fixed Term, Part Time

£17340 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Come and join one of the UK's leading ca...

Recruitment Genius: Property Sales Consultant - Chinese Speaking - OTE £70,000

£18000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity for a Fluent Chines...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Refugees try to cross the border from Greece into Macedonia, near Gevgelija, on Wednesday. The town sits on the ‘Balkan corridor’ used by refugees, mostly from Syria, to travel from Turkey to Hungary, the gateway to the EU  

The UK response to the plight of Syrian refugees is a national embarrassment

Kevin Watkins
The provincial capital of Idlib, Syria, which fell to al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra last week  

'I was sure I’d be raped or killed. I was terrified': My life as a gay Syrian refugee who had to flee Isis

Subhi Nahas
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent