Let's thank the Globe for an authentically awful view

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

 

Share

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

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

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
Queen Elizabeth II with members of the Order of Merit  

Either the Queen thinks that only one in 24 Britons are women, or her Order of Merit is appallingly backward

Janet Street-Porter
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...