It's 1675 incarnation.
|The rain had finally stopped, leaving a gleam on the cobbled street of Drury Lane, while a resilient daffodil winked a splash of yellow in the gutter next to an overflowing dustbin.
Drury Lane theatre was barely two years old, and was built strong from good English stone on the lower half, and with good English oak on the upper. The style of the building however was definitely Greek. A row of fluted colonnades ran the full width of the Theatre frontage, and it was through these that all ranks of the public passed to enter the building.
It was only upon exiting, some hours later, that the astute spectator might realize that these pillars were a mere plaster effect over timber, and was yet another mood-setting prop here at the theatre.
The main foyer was lined with walnut wood panelling and red velvet curtains. These colours of luxury served as a fine backdrop to the star of this area; a gilded life-sized horse rearing high as it drew a gladiator carriage. The theatrical centrepiece distracted from the flooring, which was simply compressed dirt strewn with straw.
Once the wide-eyed audience had a ticket in hand they would pass through into the 'house' – to discover this large oval area in front of the stage had no roof at all! Benches were arranged around the stage where sunlight (and sometimes rain) falls. The absence of a roof was a deliberately planned thing; daylight was a fine and economical illuminator for the usual show time of three o’clock.
For those able to afford the extra coin, there was an upstairs gallery accessed directly from the foyer, indeed located just above it. Here there was a covered main gallery 'the gods', or for a little more coin one could rent a private booth for gatherings of 2 to 8 (at a squeeze).
The stage itself, the beating heart of the theatre, was likewise covered. First and foremost it needed to protect the magnificent red velvet curtains for the stage, said to have been gifted to Mr Killigrew directly from the King! (A rumour that Mr Killigrew made no attempt to deny).
Behind those curtains, a small town's worth of people worked relentlessly in preparing for a show in a few more hours' time. Seamstresses made costume repairs, sets were being touched up, a maintenance crew worked on the pulleys, while a group of actors were rehearsing lines next to the remains of a cheese, wine and bread lunch.
“Nobody has emptied the bins yet!” Mr Killigrew roared. He had one of those voices that carried over and above the rest.
Vic, a man in his fifties jumped up from his seat and hurried to the front of the building. Several street hawkers had already arrived and were setting up their stalls in preparation for the arrival of customers, “I’ll be back for your fees in a moment.” Vic told them before he bent down and tugged out a weed. Throwing the dandelion into the bin he hoisted it over his shoulder and marched around the side of Drury Lane theatre to dump it out the back.