There is absolutely no doubt - because I have banished them all! - that the very greatest cultural landmark in London, nay, the entire Realm, is here due to the efforts of the late, but alas, unlamented, Sen. Joe McCarthy. He it was, with perhaps somewhat over excessive enthusiasm, who mounted a campaign against 'those dirty commie bastards', as he may have referred to them but perhaps I am confusing him with the late James Cagney! Whatever . . . as a result of his campaign the late Mr. Sam Wanamaker departed rapidly from 'the Land of the Free' and headed for London where on the whole we take a more relaxed attitude to the vagaries of 'luvvies'.
Once here he was smitten with a dream, that the Globe Theatre, Shakespeare's artistic home should arise again on the South Bank. You need only imagine the shrugs, the lethargy, the bureaucracy to say nothing of the greed of various developers hand-in-glove, if not in pocket, to the government and all too eager to slap up yet another monstrous office block. So it was a miracle that in Mr. Wanamaker were two unstoppable forces - he was American and he was Jewish! Thus a miracle took place and Shakespeare's Globe lives and breathes again. It was God's cruel jest that Mr. Wanamaker died four years before the theatre opened.
This week Sky Arts 2 is running a series of Shakespeare plays and tonight and tomorrow are two of the very best - Henry IV part I and tomorrow part II. These two plays illustrate better than anything else the very essence of English history despite the fact that they are both, by severe historical scholorship standards, a travesty! But old Will knew what your history teachers do not know, that the very best of art and artistry uncover truths far more fundamental than mere fact can show. Happily, in this production Roger Allam plays Falstaff and he is superb, the very best in my opinion and I saw Joss Ackland play it brilliantly. To have had the intense pleasure, as I did courtesy of 'SoD', to sit in Wanamaker's 'time machine' and watch these two plays was indescribable.
Tonight is your chance, so set your recorder-thingies if you can't watch it directly. Definitely not to be missed. Oh, and thanks, Joe, old boy, for sending us the truly brilliant Sam Wanamaker, better than a ship full of food parcels!