Who would have thought a year ago that one of the things Londoners would have missed most in the event of a complete social lockdown would have been men in tights hiding behind fake trees pretending not to have noticed that their girlfriend is suddenly a bloke?*
But the ups and downs of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre at Bankside has been a long-running cultural saga of the pandemic in London. It put lots of its archive performances online for free, which were fantastically popular, but it was nonetheless threatened with the spectre of permanent closure, alongside many of the capital’s legendary theatres and performance venues.
So it’s really good news to hear that Shakespeare’s Globe is planning to reopen to visitors on April 13, in line with the current government roadmap out of lockdown. Initially, the theatre is just running guided (and appropriately socially distanced) tours of the building and backstage areas, but the Globe is one of London’s better-suited theatrical spaces for performances, since it has outside standing (‘groundling’) areas, and exposed balcony seating. There’s no word yet on when that might happen, although indoor venues such as theatres are able to reopen with suitable measures in place from May 17 (aka ‘Step 3’). The theatre’s Swan restaurant and bar will reopen on April 12 for outdoor dining and drinking.
For now, why not just wander around The Bard’s hallowed ground, maybe raise a glass of something and give thanks that a vital London cultural icon looks like it has been spared – at least for the time being. As Polonius remarks in Act 2 Scene I of ‘Hamlet’, ‘Shit, that was close!’
*Obviously, any combination of genders may be substituted here.
Guided tours of Shakespeare’s Globe are available Apr 13-Oct 31. Pre-book here.
Love hiding in a campy glade? You’ll be knocked for six by this one.