2 plays and a tour

Today was yet another marathon but, completely worth every moment.  The morning began with a trip down to Waterloo station where I was able to quickly (sort of) get my tickets for tomorrow’s trip to Egham where I will meet up with Margaret and Jane for lunch and a tour of Windsor Castle. Looking forward to seeing them. Leaving Waterloo we proceeded to the National Theatre for a tour. On the way we came the closest I’ve been to the London Eye.

I finally got a close up view of the London Eye. Not going up. Too many more interesting things to do.

I finally got a close up view of the London Eye. Not going up. Too many more interesting things to do.

It is (as you can see) a gigantic ferris wheel on the Southbank. Each capsule holds about 25 people. I do not plan to ride. We passed on headed to The National Theatre which is a short walk east of the wheel.

We arrived outside the National and the first thing you see is the shed which is a temporary structure housing a temporary black box theatre for experimental works primarily. Next to the shed is a statue of the founding artistic director – Laurence Olivier.

Sir Laurence Olivier's statue outside the National.

Sir Laurence Olivier’s statue outside the National.

It is very beautiful and quite diminutive.  We entered through the main entrance.

Outside the National Theatre.

Outside the National Theatre.

Interior of the National Theatre lobby.

Interior of the National Theatre lobby.

Interior view of the National Theatre.

Interior view of the National Theatre.

Christina tells me the design was quite controversial given the modern style. I thought it was a very imposing and majestic structure appropriate to a country’s national theatre.

We were given an hour tour (no pictures allowed, sorry). This included all three current operating theatres and some of the backstage. We were able to get a preview of the set for Medea that we see next week when it begins the preview performances.

After the tour the group broke up and Christina and I had lunch at cafe in the National.  The food was excellent. After lunch we had some time till we were to meet some of the original group for a performance so Christina and I walked down to the Young Vic to pick up tickets for tonight’s performance as well as our tickets for The Crucible.

On the way, I stopped to get my picture in front of Big Ben and Westminster.

Standing on Southbank looking across to Big Ben and Westminister where Parliament sits.

Standing on Southbank looking across to Big Ben and Westminister where Parliament sits.

Not sure I will make it to those this trip so, I figured I better get a picture while I could.

We also passed the Old Vic.

I passed the Old Vic Theatre on the way to pick up tickets for tonight's performance at the Young Vic. I am seeing the advertised production of The Crucible next week. It just received an excellent review from Ben Brantley in the NY Times.

I passed the Old Vic Theatre on the way to pick up tickets for tonight’s performance at the Young Vic. I am seeing the advertised production of The Crucible next week. It just received an excellent review from Ben Brantley in the NY Times.

I can’t really express what it means to finally see this theatre that I have read so much about and enjoys such an incredibly rich history and know I am actually, going to see a performance there. Can’t wait.

After wemg8tmthe tickets at the Young Vic. We headed back to the National. On the way we went up a smallish street called Cornwall Rd.  It was a charming little street with a pub and a church.

The White Hart pub on Cornwall Rd. Looking the street.

The White Hart pub on Cornwall Rd. Looking down the street.

 

 

As we walked up Cornwall Road there was this lovely little church among the houses. St. Patricks

As we walked up Cornwall Road there was this lovely little church among the houses. St. Patricks

I just love the little unexpected finds. We got back to the National and picked up members that were going to go see the matinee. We crossed the Thames at Hungerford Bridge.

The Thames River as I crossed the Hungerford Bridge

The Thames River as I crossed the Hungerford Bridge

I lead the way. This was my turn to prove I could get us where we needed to go. We had to pass by the National Gallery and that square was packed. It is Saturday and the summer holiday. I made it through with just a little, help from Christina.  We arrived at the Harold Pinter Theatre to see The Importance of Being Earnest. This is an extra show not on the study trip. When I saw this production was here (now in previews – it opens officially next week), I couldn’t resist. To see a production of Earnest in London. It seemed to good to pass up.

Outside the Harold Pinter Theatre to see The Importance of Being Earnest.

Outside the Harold Pinter Theatre to see The Importance of Being Earnest.

The production was great. The actors were simply marvelous in their performances.  The cast included Sian Phillips as Lady Bracknell and Nigel Havers and Martin Jarvis who played the same roles in the 1982 production at the National directed by Peter Hall. Incidentally, this production was directed and designed by the same individuals that did Titus Andronicus at the Globe. The production had a conceit that worked beautifully and every element of the production was carefully chosen. Who could ask for anything more?

We scrambled back to the hostel and I convinced Christina to go for dinner quickly before we had to leave and go see the next production.  We went around the corner to this little pub we discovered several nights earlier.

Fitzrovia Belle - a nice pub I've found near the hostel.

Fitzrovia Belle – a nice pub I’ve found near the hostel.

I had a great dinner and Christina had dessert since she had already eaten. We hurried back and picked up the group and headed back down to where we had been earlier to see the next production (this one on our schedule). This play is called The Valley of Astonishments.  This play, at the Young Vic, was written and directed by Peter Brook. To tell you about him would take too long. You can read about him on line but, he is 91 years old and one of the per-eminent theatre artists of the 20th century. For me to get to see a play by him was pretty cool and it didn’t hurt that the production was amazing in it’s simplicity.  Thinking about the contrast of the two productions I saw today, gives me pause. Wilde uses language in a musical way with wit and charm. Brook used words in a thought provoking manner with ease and simplicity.

That’s it. Got to go to sleep and get up and catch the train.

Outside the Young Vic on The Cut - Southbank

Outside the Young Vic on The Cut – Southbank