The most sublime and ridiculous evening. Epitomised I suppose by the passage from Act 4 to Act 5. One second I was blubbing over the father-son deathbed reconciliation, with David Bradley's king realising with a grim sigh that the prophecy he would die in 'Jerusalem' meant that the appointed place was the room so named in the palace, and the time was now. The next I was in a sun-kissed September orchard with a gaggle of fools, a scene which ends with a Falstaff soliloquy decrying Shallow's influence on his men, concluding, "let men take heed of their company".
The whole thing caught me somewhat unawares. I hadn't expected to be swept along and through it. You expect that of Macbeth or Othello, but not a history play. The first half of Part One had dragged - this ran like the wind.
Two odd things beforehand. I broke a tooth on a toffee walking over the Hungerford Bridge, as was. Second, some of you may know that Saturday was FA Cup Final day. I'd taped the match and hoped to be able to survive the evening without finding out the score. As I live quite near the Arsenal ground and very near two Arsenal pubs, getting to the South Bank unscathed meant keeping my head down and listening to a Walkman - something I hardly ever do.
I took my seat in the Olivier feeling pleased with myself - three hours of Shakespeare followed by the Cup Final is a pretty fine evening in my estimation.
I chatted with the lady next to me before curtain up. She was up from Hastings.
She: I saw Part One this afternoon.
Me: Oh really? What did you think?
She: Oh, wonderful. The actors must be exhausted. Especially the fellow playing Percy, I don't know how they do it to be honest.
Me: Well Percy's dead now so I expect he's soaking in the bath.
She : Oh yes I expect so.
Me : So what did you do between shows?
She : Watched the Cup Final in the pub. Arsenal won.
Enter Rumour, full of painted tongues