We have a small rose in our garden which has just started to bloom.
The same applies to another rose. This is the Rose Theatre on London’s Bankside, only a few paces walk from the more renowned and far busier Shakespearian venue, the Globe Theatre.
I for one would go to the Rose first. In fact it is an archaeological site, currently under threat, resting in the foundations of a modern office block (which houses the Health and Safety Executive apparently). Once you pass through the unimposing entrance and the tiny lobby, you enter a new world. Here is a small stage surrounded by seating on a balcony looking over the ruins of the original Rose Playhouse, built over 400 years ago.
Yesterday evening I watched, with my wife and daughter, Henry IV Part 1 performed by Thrice Ninth Productions in an intimate contemporary setting. It was stirring stuff with the action happening literally at your feet, so close was the audience to it. You could feel every breath and empathise with every emotion. Perhaps this was what Queen Elizabeth I experienced when Shakespeare performed with his troupe to her – Falstaff from Henry IV was apparently one of her favourite characters.
We have fond memories here in England of Queen Bess’s reign, with all its stories of heroics against the Spanish Armada and the explorations of Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh in the New World and elsewhere – and of course our greatest bard. We are generally equally fond of our current Elizabeth II – but the overall taste for monarchy has certainly subsided, with questions being raised about what happens next after more than 60 years of rule.
Back to the rose. You must go to see a performance there and help something small and potentially fragile emerge into a fully-blooming flower again.