There are hollywood actors — pretty faces and gorgeous bodies, and then there are real actors — talented individuals who can memorize and execute hundreds of lines of script, on cue, with passion and conviction. The latter are the truly talented ones, but little recognised thanks to our modern society’s obsession with glamour and celebrity.
In London, I had a chance to watch at play at the Globe Theatre in London’s Southbank recently. Along with three other friends, we stood amongst dozens of others in the centre of the traditional round theatre and watched a group of actors perform Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, a comedy about a wild and fiery woman who eventually meets her match and is tamed to become docile and obedient.
The show kicked off with a drunken man, staggering through the audience. He was on his cellphone, talking to his girlfriend, and angrily tried to shake off the usher who was tailing him, trying to escort him out of the theatre. Funnily, my friends and I had spotted this drunkard outside the entrance to the theatre and we had subtly inched away as we walked past him; I even muttered “why do they let such a drunk man in?” For a few seconds, no one in the audience was sure whether this man was truly a drunk or if he was a part of the show. He eventually bounded on stage and fell into rhythm with the other actors who had appeared on stage to confront this drunkard. Turned out that this drunkard was our leading man! And so began the play, and for over two hours we stood mesmerized by the show unfolding before us on stage.
I’ve always had difficulty fully understanding Shakespeare’s language, but thanks to the clear delivery and acting skills, I was able to follow the plot and laugh along with (most of) the jokes. The set was simple but elegant, the costumes felt authentic, and the whole set-up allowed for audience interaction which was unexpected but cool. There were no special effects, no director shouting “cut!”, nobody rushing up to touch-up makeup or adjust a costume. This was a true play with well trained actors working hard to deliver a memorable performance to a live audience.