The Alehouse, Bjarte Eike & Barokksolistene, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 29 October 2017

We liked the sound of this 17th Century alehouse music concert, described thus:

They will transform our candlelit space into something close to a 17th-century alehouse, with a menu of highly entertaining, touching and beautiful folk music.

So we awaited the concert with rapt attention:

Rapt attention considering the show hasn’t yet started
A Shakespearean pre-show double-selfie

In the first half Bjarte Eike explained the 17th century alehouse music phenomenon to us and demonstrated the fusion of serious and folk music through the material played – several pieces of Purcell for example. Some with Shakespearean themes to make us feel at home; Timon Of Athens, Midsummer Night’s Dream, you get the idea.

In truth, we found the first half of the concert far more to our taste than the second half. The first half had a bit of audience participation with a sea shanty and stuff, but the second half seemed to weird out completely, seeming more like a bawdy modern Gaelic cèilidh than a 17th century alehouse.

Of course this was never really meant to be a truly authentic depiction, but we felt the project must have run out of material that related to its purpose, or simply found that they could only get the audience going by playing more familiar stuff.

It just felt a bit gratuitously bawdy at times and bit of an ego trip for some of the performers to show off their favourite tricks.

Here is a link to the Shakespeare’s Globe page on the event we attended.

Below is a video of the performers taken recently.

This search term – click here – should tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about them, even if you have been afraid to ask.

I must say The Globe rather irritates us now. The bars and other audience facilities are very utilitarian and the bars always seem to have just run out of the thing you want. There’s something a bit amateurish and/or touristic about the whole set up; the prices are far from amateur.

But the setting is superb and was ideal for this concert – or at least what this concert was purported to be.

The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse; an ideal setting for Alehouse music

We enjoyed our evening but we won’t be rushing back, either to Barokksolistene or The Globe.

The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk by Daniel Jamieson, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 18 June 2016

The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk was a really super production – click here for The Globe’s information on the piece, which includes extracts from and links to the excellent reviews.

Just as well, really, because Janie had been really looking forward to this for months, which might have been a recipe for disappointment. She loves Chagall.

We had whet our appetites for this piece a few days before, by visiting The Globe for our complimentary members’ tour.  But we hadn’t seen the inside of the Sam Wanamaker, as the playhouse was too busy getting ready for the start of our production.

Anyway, it all went right on the night. We got to the neighbourhood ridiculously early, wanting to make sure we allowed time for the relatively long journey and time to park up without time pressure. As we had mistakenly written down 7:30 when in fact the play started at 8:00, we had plenty of time to anticipate the production.

A lady came and sat with us for a while, then in the interval did the same again, bringing her husband with her that time. Unusual.

The Playhouse is not all that comfy; we noted where we might prefer to sit for next time – only some rows have back support for example.

Lots of candlelight for this production, which pleased Janie. I liked the cockamamie set. It was a charming play – quite straightforwardly linear in telling the story of Marc and Bella Chagall. But the two leads, Marc Antolin and Audrey Brisson who really made the show; super talented and delightful to watch.

We’d had a terrific weekend of theatre; this one and Wild on Friday both really excellent. We celebrated with a take away from Mohsen’s – probably the best of the Persian places we have tried for Persian-style kebabs at least. Probably Jewish food would have been more fitting, but where can you get that at 22:30 on your way from Bankside to W3?