06 June 2014

What manner o' thing is your crocodile?

This afternoon's entertainment involved taking in the RSC production of Antony & Cleopatra at the Globe, featuring the excellent Eve Best as the legendary Egyptian queen. I saw Best in the film of the Globe's Much Ado About Nothing a year or two ago and was taken with her performance then; it's great to know she's consistently that impressive. The whole performance was splendid, and I'm glad I've finally seen the play performed by the very best actors around.

It was my first visit to the Globe as a groundling in the yard, and while my feet did start to ache I had positioned myself at the fence so could at least lean against it. Many of the groundlings seemed to be young German visitors, and I wonder how much they understood of the story, given those of us with a lifetime of English sometimes struggle with the Bard.

Here's one of my favourite comic passages from the play, as Antony 'explains' the nature of a Nile crocodile to Lepidus:

LEPIDUS What manner o' thing is your crocodile?

MARK ANTONY It is shaped, sir, like itself; and it is as broad as it hath breadth: it is just so high as it is, and moves with its own organs: it lives by that which nourisheth it; and the elements once out of it, it transmigrates.

LEPIDUS What colour is it of?

MARK ANTONY Of its own colour too.

LEPIDUS 'Tis a strange serpent.

MARK ANTONY 'Tis so. And the tears of it are wet.

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