I’ll not budge an inch!

Monday, September 10, 2012

I like eating food way too much to distinguish any particular type as my favourite, but I’d say dim sum comes pretty close. My ever-indulging German and ever-resourceful Singaporean had been trying to plan a dim sum lunch at the Royal China near Baker Street for ages, so of course we finally got around to it in the last week.

The only thing I could think while eating these delicious buns and dumplings and egg tarts was, “Why did I not know about this place sooner???” Hence my forgetting to take any photos during lunch.

Unfortunately, this delicious lunch marked the first of many hard goodbyes last week. Luckily I had another trip to the Shakespeare’s Globe to take my mind off things.

After some small plates (of which I also took no photos) at The Real Greek, we walked along the Thames to the Globe to wait in line to see The Taming of the Shrew. As groundlings, we could bring in food (surprise tiramisu during the interval!), come and go as we pleased, and feel right in the middle of the action.

While watching Shakespeare as it was meant to be seen, standing up listening to incredible actors interpret and improvise his words is so fun and engaging, I really had a hard time clapping at the end after Kate (the shrew) gives her final speech.

Throughout the play, Kate has been a wild, untameable women basically forced into marriage with Petruchio who really only wants her for her dowry. He ‘tames’ her by starving her and depriving her of sleep. So, that’s one thing. But, at the end Kate gives the longest speech of the play, excerpted here:

…I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway,
When they are bound to serve, love and obey.
Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth,
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?…

– Taming of the Shrew, Act 5, Scene 2

My heart sank. Now, this speech has been pretty controversial among readers and critics of Shakespeare. Some claim Kate has been brainwashed and believes every word she says, while others maintain that she’s developed a new skill of ‘role-playing’ to survive in the marriage.

Part of the magic of live performance is that the interpretation of the end can change with every performance. The sentiment would have changed dramatically had our Kate chosen the ‘ironic, resourceful’ shrew rendition.

Regardless, the acting was impeccable, I had a perfect Shakespeare companion, and I’m so thankful to have spent a second night enjoying Shakespeare’s words in the recreation of his London theatre. If you come to London during the summer months, don’t miss it.

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