Friday, August 17, 2012

Yesterday, our first full one in London, we enjoyed breakfast at the Penn Club with an English gentleman who was in town for an engineering conference. Our conversation was pleasant and the food was delicious, served with graciousness by the young staff.

We visited the British Library in the morning, where we wandered through a wonderful exhibit about the effect of the English landscape on British writers. I stopped to read about Keats (a letter to his brother describing a walking tour), Wordsworth (a travel guide to the Lake District which he authored in 1835), Hopkins (a long, lovely poem about a river), and several others. Because of our schedule, we had to leave after only an hour, but we may be able to get back for more in a day or so.
Mark Rylance as Richard in The Globe's Richard III

The highlight of the day was a performance of Richard III at The Globe Theater. It has to be one of the finest Shakespeare performances I've ever seen. The actor playing Richard was spectacular, portraying him as a giddy, childish, addle-brained, but very skilled and cunning "performer". The only disagreement I had with the actor's performance was that he made Richard seem almost insane -- almost completely free of the ability to be reasonable and make sense -- whereas I think of him as more confused than crazy. I was disappointed, too, that the actor didn't make it seem like Richard had an epiphany at the end of the play (which I think he did, realizing that he's been a fake all his life).  The overall production was superb, however -- one of the best I've ever seen.

Dinner was excellent pasta at an outdoor cafe in breezy coolness, then a walk home to our hotel.

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