Saturday, March 22, 2014

Exploring London's Theatre Scene

Probably one of the neatest things about being in a city as big as London as that there is truly something for everyone, even when it comes to an activity like going to the theatre. You want to see a production starring some of the most famous actors and actresses of our time? Try going to see a play or musical in the West End, which is home to over 40 different theatres.


You want to see something a bit more contemporary? How about venturing out to one of the 40+ smaller theatres in London that aren't located in the West End. Oh, you want to see something truly historic? Well then, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre is the ticket for you.

Over the past year, Ryan and I have managed to see the following productions in London:

The Cripple of Inishmaan, Noel Coward Theatre (Starring Daniel Radcliffe)
Once, Phoenix Theatre
Much Ado About Nothing, The Old Vic (Starring James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave)
Henry V, Noel Coward Theatre (Starring Jude Law)
The Drowned Man, Temple Studios

Obviously, looking at the list, we tend to see productions that star the bigger names or are more famous shows. In fact, we likely would have gone to see the Book of Mormon, Jersey Boys, The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, and Wicked (all currently playing in London) if we hadn't already seen them previously!

The most 'interesting' show on the list, however, is definitely the most recent show, The Drowned Man. I say 'interesting' because I'm not quite sure if I think it is the best of the bunch, but it was definitely the most memorable and unique show I have been to in quite some time. First off, the style of the production is completely different. Instead of sitting in a seat watching the action unfold in front of you, you are wearing a mask and walking around the set (and by set, I mean gigantic warehouse of at least 3 levels and numerous rooms) and the action is unfolding all around you. In some cases, the actors might even ask you to become part of the show, even if it is just by handing them a prop or answering a question. 

The other unique thing about it is that you inevitably get separated from those you came with, as it's up to you whether you want to follow a particular actor from one room to another, or if you just want to wander the set and see what scenes play out in the space you've decided to occupy. Therefore, the end of the evening is spent discussing various scenes with your friends and trying to piece together the entire story, as chances are you only saw about a tenth (or less) of everything that was going on. 

I think over the next few months, we will try to sneak in a production of Les Miserables, We Will Rock You (Queen Themed musical), or something at the Globe, but I will definitely be looking forward to our next chance to see something a bit off the beaten path as well.