Tuesday, July 27, 1999

Bath 1999: excerpts from my study abroad journal

(written on July 28 about the day before)

London Again!

Theatre at Shakespeare's Globe: Antony and Cleopatra

(Shakespeare had to be rolling in his grave. This production was more comedic than tragic.) I sat on the top level...great seats! Not that it mattered...the play was horrible.

Yesterday was a very long day. The bus left at about 6:30 am for London.

We got into London around 9:30 and the bus dropped us off in front of the Tate Gallery (note: it's now known as Tate Britain, not to be confused with Tate Modern). Some other people went to the Tower of London, but it's expensive to get in and too touristy for me. The Tate Gallery is free and has some famous artworks. I loved the Pre-Raphaelite section because those are some of my favorite paintings, particularly the ones that were inspired by Victorian literature, like "Ophelia" (okay, so that was inspired by Hamlet, but I love it) and "The Lady of Shalott" (a poem by Tennyson).

(note: on the next page, I pasted a postcard of The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse, which I bought at the Tate gift shop.)

It was so exciting to me to see these paintings up close and personal. They beat the crown jewels in the Tower of London anyday.

After the visit to Tate, we walked over to the Parliament Building and right across the street to Westminster Abbey. There was a long line to get in, and a 3 pound admission fee. So Amy, Susan, and I pretended to go in to pray, and we were allowed in for free through the pilgrim door. We did go in a little side chapel and sat quietly for a few minutes. I couldn't really pray because I was trying to take in the whole feeling of just being in that incredible place. I was awe-struck. We each lit a candle (I lit mine in memory of Grandpa), and we all stood quietly outside the chapel and took in the surroundings. We did not have access to a lot of the abbey because we didn't pay to get in (we couldn't see where Princess Diana's funeral was held). What we did see though was gorgeous. We looked at some of the tombs inside...one small obscure one with the inscription: "O Rare Ben Jonson." There were other writers buried there too: Tennyson, George Eliot, etc. But we didn't go far enough into the abbey to see those.

After that, we walked to this cheap Italian restaurant in Soho, where the service was really bad. Then Kerry, Kim, and I went to Knightsbridge and visited Harrod's. I didn't buy anything because everything there was so overpriced. We stopped at McD's for sundaes and cokes before catching the tube to Monument to walk across the bridge to the Globe Theatre. We had to attend a lecture prior to the play, and I kept dozing off. I was so tired by that point. At 7:30 the play started, and it was ghastly. The audience laughed during the death scenes, and there were some ludicrous parts, such as when Cleopatra hoisted a dying Antony up onto the 2nd level of the stage. He was laid onto a sling. It just looked ridiculous, and all the drama of Antony's death was lost. In the last scene, Cleopatra appeared onstage with no hair, obviously making her more masculine (as she was played by a man) but also not making clear whether Cleopatra just went mad and cut off all her hair or what. It just made no sense.

No comments: