Sunday, 20 December 2015


I was pretty gutted when I missed out on tickets to see one of my favourite actors do a reading at the Globe last year but perhaps due to the great response they've decided to repeat the performance this winter not only once but six times, yay! Seeing as I was not about to take any chances this time, I booked tickets the first day they went on sale and managed to secure second row seats on the opening night. The reading is held at the Sam Wanaker Playhouse, a newer, completely indoor theatre next to Shakespeare's Globe, which uses candlelight as it's only form of illuminance. My first time at the Playhouse was seeing The Duchess of Malfi (starring Gemma Arterton) in early 2014 and I fell in love with it's old fashioned wooden decor, though I have to admit, the benches aren't the most comfortable after the two hour mark.

It pains me to say that I wasn't previously familiar with the work of James Joyce but apparently The Dead is the longest in his collection of short stories entitled Dubliners. It tells the tale of a university professor named Gabriel Conroy who attends an annual Feast of the Epiphany dance and dinner party with his wife Gretta. The event draws together a variety of family members and friends and the story goes on in great detail about the comings and goings of the evening. Despite initially worrying about it, Gabriel gives a speech in which he asserts that people shouldn't linger on the past and the dead and instead thrive in the present with the living. After the party has ended and Gabriel and his wife are back at the hotel, Gretta bursts into tears and recounts her youth spent with a boy who died waiting for her outside her window in the cold. Gabriel then has quite the epiphany, wondering if he ever knew his wife at all and contemplating his own mortality.
"His soul swooned softly as he heard the snow falling faint through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their lat end, upon all the living and the dead."

Feargal Murray plays a beautiful introduction on the piano before Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones, The Wire) takes to the stage in a tuxedo and starts the story. Possessing a rather short attention span, I often find readings can get a bit boring after a while but let me tell you this was not the case with this one and I'm 99% sure that I'm not biased. Though perhaps it had everything to do with Aidan Gillen's narration, which is captivating to the point where I'm not sure whether he is the world's best storyteller or... I'm just biased. Anywho, his narration is a far cry from the quieter muttering I'm used to hearing in press interviews and such, and accompanied periodically by the soaring piano accompaniment, he really takes you deep into the story and encompasses the world around you so much so that you can almost taste the food that is being served at the dinner party. By the end, the short story felt entirely too erm, short, though it stayed with me for quite a long while after. It's quite interesting how much laughter you can get out of the audience from such a realist and ultimately dark piece of literature too.

Of course my friend and I hung around to meet Aidan at stage door too. We'd just heard that the next night's performance had been cancelled super last minute, "Yeah, it's due to scheduling..." he said and having heard rumours that it was because he had to fly to Belfast, I pressed, "Has Game of Thrones not finished filming for the year?"
To which he replied, "No." Which is a little strange since they had the Season 6 wrap party a couple of days prior? Hmmm, slightly mysterious.
Anyway Aidan was super lovely as always and seemed happy to oblige signing a few things for us. He took his time trying to figure out where the best place to sign on my friend's GoT promotional photo was since both Littlefinger and Sansa are wearing such dark clothing in it and we had a black marker.
"You could always sign at the top." I suggested at the space above their heads.
"Yes but Sophie signed here (on the cape) and it turned out fine!" he pointed out. So it was approximately ten more minutes (perhaps a slight exaggeration but that's definitely what it felt like) of him and I lightly arguing before my friend found a silver marker at the bottom of her bag. Major face palm moment. When I pulled out my GoT DVD, he was yet again stumped as to where to sign, but this time because the entirety of one surface was already covered with other actor's autographs. I told him to sign on the other side as I'd saved that front side for him and he smiled saying, "Oh, the best part."
After we took photos he said that he was off to grab some food and he told us to stay warm and we waved our goodbyes.

The Dead is playing at Shakespeare's Globe until the 28th of December. Tickets and more info can be found here.

Have you been to a reading before?



  1. Sounds like an interesting evening! And Aidan sounds ever so lovely :)

    Meg | A Little Twist Of…

  2. Great post! I believe it was great performance, he is amazing and sweet as always. I warmly recomend "The art of war"-also performed by Aidan Gillen


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