Apart from mounting antiaircraft guns behind the hot kebab stall beside the Bankside Globe Theatre, nothing I suppose can be done about the droning of aero-engines over the Thames, which runs along the bottom of the theatre's backyard. But that is not all that is wrong with the place. Writing as a wellwisher, suggest to Mr. Sam Wanamaker that he educates companies about to use his theatre on its limitations — indeed the limitations of all theatres.
I hold there is nothing more foul than amateurism in the professional theatre. 1 suggest it is vilely amateur to position spotlights at each side of the stage so that they shine into the eyes of cash-customers and critics alike. It is just as daft to use a set that cuts off full view of a play's action from at least a quarter of the audience.
Mr. Wananiaker is an actor of the first class, an artist with a truly personal style, uncluttered with mannerisms. His Bankside project is visionary. It promises London and visitors to London cultural profit and good entertainment. But it will fail theatrically if nothing is done about the acoustics of the present contraption.
Even Mr. Harry H. Corbett's splendid baritone, used in the current production of M. Eugene lonesco's Macbett, ricochets off into outer space. And Mr. Terry Scott's matronly Duncan sounds like twin infants feebly squawking while something nasty from a Hammer film slowly smothers them.
lonesco's play is an elegant essay in mickey-taking. The production is less than elegant, broadened to a degree that insults the intelligence. Yet I found it interesting.
The source, as the title implies, is Shakespeare. The Bard was fascinated by power politics. In an oblique way he admired tyrants. His heroes tend that way. lonesco has no time for the heroic: his talent is for the comic. Quite properly he seems the Macbeth characters as clownish villains.
Three comedians play the main parts — Mr. Corbett, Mr. Scott and, as Banquo, Mr, Victor Spinetti. Banquo is Macbett's twin, a mirror image of a lickspit tie who exploits the king's vanity. Duncan is a fatuous crook who wallows in flattery like a sweettoothed hippo in a bog of molasses.
"War is no picnic, Your Highness," says Macbett, using Harold Steptoe's posh accent.
For top people, lonesco suggests, war is the picnic. Glamis and Cawdor are righteous rebels: Macbett and Banquo cash in on their suppression. The king who chooses to do no right, for his sycophants is the king who does no wrong.
There are good moments, mostly from Mr. Corbett who has a talent for satirising the lumpenbourgeoisie. But they are moments. The production is boring in an infantile way.
Mr. Jack Hawkins was an accomplished and arguably the bestliked player in our theatre. Fifty years ago come March, 1974, Shaw's "St. Joan" opened in London. In that production, Master Jack Hawkins, aged 13, played Dunois's page, the boy who waited on a bank of the Loire for "The Maid," and saw "a kingfisher flash, like blue lightning."
I remember Hawkins' beautifully simple Horatio to Gielgud's Hamlet, his ironically suave Othello, his harassed Morel in G.B.S.'s "Candida." But the part my mind holds most clearly was his last in the theatre, in Fry's "Thor with Angels." Christianity had driven false gods from England, and in a magnificent speech, magnificently spoken, Hawkins told of a man on a cross rising over the land. We shall miss him. He was a fine player and good man.
W. J. Igoe