December was such a good month. Amity & I roadtripped to Scotland, I reunited with Katharina in Germany for Christmas, and then my family came to visit and we spent New Year’s Eve in Cornwall. Lots of travel, lots of excitement… but after it ended, there was some comfort in settling back in to life in London to really begin 2014.
I’m determined to keep more of a balance this semester. I have a lot of schoolwork and I have a lot of things I want to do in London, and I want to fit more of both of them in without getting too stressed out. Tall order, I know.
I’m starting with the theatre. It’s one of my absolute favorite things about living in London, but sometimes it seems like something I can’t fit in, even though most shows are the same length as a movie or one of my longer lectures. Here’s a little round up of what I made it to last month – any Londoners or London visitors, feel free to take note and leave your own recommendations!
See anyone familiar?
Most of you probably recognize Ron Weasley. A lot may recognize Mr. Bates from Downton Abbey. A few might recognize young BBC Merlin! And there’s also that guy who was James McAvoy’s war buddy in Atonement (he was the runaway star of the show, in my opinion).
Amity and I got tickets for this a few months ago because it was really popular (Tangent: the box office girl I talked to on the phone said that she was going to name her guitar after me. A high honor!). I didn’t know much about the play but was keen to see it based on the great reviews and all-star cast, but ended up really loving it. It’s about a group of guys in 1950s London who get caught up in some shady business and scandal surrounding the club they all have a hand in. It was one of those plays where the storyline itself wasn’t necessarily anything special, but the writing and acting was just so funny, intense, heartfelt, and clever that it made for an amazing show overall.
One of my favorite myths to dispel about the theatre in London is that it’s some impossibly posh & glamorous affair that’s going to cost you an arm and a leg. It certainly can be, if that’s what you’re after (I still haven’t been to anything at the Royal Opera House because I just can’t stomach the prices for good seats!), but it can also be easy, comfortable, and even cheap.
Case in point: Amity and I went to see one of the most famous British actors alive in a production by the Royal Shakespeare Company… for £5.
We scored these seats way back in September, but it was worth the wait to see David Tennant in the flesh, even if he did have stupid hair (watch that video, it’s good fun). Shakespeare is done so often and in so many different ways, and I really liked this version. It was very traditional in costume and setting, but they really brought the humor out in the dialogue, which I loved.
Oh and then we met David Tennant. Hello, Doctor. He signed Amity’s programme, I took his photo with a cute little Norwegian girl who was waiting excitedly, and I like to think we had a moment when he said “Where’s the camera?” and I said “Here,” and he said, “Nice to meet you!” and I whispered “I love you,” and he got into the back of a Range Rover and drove away.
I grabbed a last-minute discount ticket to this show a few weeks ago when I realized that the huge gap between classes I have on certain days would be a great chance to see matinee shows.
I knew I’d like Jersey Boys because of the music (what can I say – I really love the 70s), but I didn’t realize how emotional the story was. Like a lot of famous musicians (especially of that era), Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons had some pretty dark times along their journey, and I was almost taken aback at how sad and intense parts of the show were.
The music was phenomenal and I really liked reading that Frankie Valli has seen and approves of the musical. I actually liked this show more the more I thought about it afterwards. As a final bonus, the part of Frankie Valli was played by Jon from S Club 7. Blast from the past! I can tell you that S Club did not properly showcase his vocal talents. Dude’s got some serious falsetto.
Ooh this was so lovely and I’m so sad its run has ended!
Amity put me on to this one (she saw it twice) when she described it as a “dark fairy tale.” I like those. I think Tori Amos was living out some childhood fantasies through this project because they cast an actress who looks exactly like her in the lead.
Anyway, I will admit that I was not down with 100% of her lyrics (Why did they keep calling water “H2O” in the middle of songs? It did not fit!), but the story and sets and whole feel of the thing were just beautiful. It was whimsical and ethereal and all those other magical floaty words, which is fitting since it was about a magical floaty girl.
Speaking of which, the acrobatics were mesmerizing. The main character, the light princess, has lost her ability to be serious and (quite literally) down-to-earth, and had to float around without touching the ground for most of the show. During some parts, they used invisible wires, but my favorite part was when she was floating up and down in front of this giant bookshelf by being STRAPPED TO SOME GUY’S BACK.
Can you see him? You can just make out his legs, and his elbow below hers. He was dressed all in black and was climbing fluidly up and down while she was harnessed to his back. It was amazing. I was in the second row so I could see him pretty well – the effect from farther away must have been really cool, but I actually liked being able to see the acrobats because they were so impressive!
Another day, another Doctor.
What? American Psycho the musical? Is this a weird joke? No. But you are in good company if you wondered that. The director of the 2000 non-musical film version said, “When I heard they were doing a musical theater version, my first thought was, “That’s crazy. But it could be kind of brilliant.” ” One of the writers of this musical version said, “My first response was, “Who would go see that?” But then I immediately thought, “Well I would. I’d definitely go see it.” ” Pretty much my reaction.
When we finally made it eight thousand miles out to Islington, we were greeted by this giant creepy face-smeared portrait of Matt Smith (the ears give it away).
The Almeida Theatre, aside from having devastatingly uncomfortable bench seats that made Amity and I feel about four times our age the next day, was really cool. The entire production was so synthetic and 80s. The throwback songs fit in perfectly and the original numbers were actually great, whether they were funny or sinister. I just didn’t see how singing would fit in to a story about a serial killer, but somehow it worked.
It’s also a pretty small place, so we felt really close to the stage. Matt Smith stared into my soul a few times. Once he winked. This may top the time that Justin Timberlake pointed at me at the *NSYNC concert in fourth grade (mostly because I can not be conclusively sure that that happened).
American Psycho’s run has ended, too, but I feel like there’s definite potential for both this one and The Light Princess to get picked up again. They were just so great!
January was a month of hits in the theatre department. Five awesome and very different shows, and five welcome and well-distracting breaks from the monotony of schoolwork. Bring it on, February!