The Old Vic

I am submitting another post today since in the morning we must get an early start to catch the train for Brighton (on the coast). Somehow, I thought I was going to take it easy but, I was wrong. I did get a good sleep last evening – at least 8 hours. My plan was rise, have breakfast and do some much needed laundry. However, the laundry facilities were down. Since I was out of underwear and t shirts, I had to make up trip up to Oxford Street and buy fresh. I found a department store and and bought the necessary items.

Feeling better about my clothing situation Christina suggested we leave early – today is the day we have tickets for The Crucible at the Old Vic Theatre. Basically, for me, this is unquestionably going to be one of the high points of this trip – seeing a play at one of the most storied theatres in theatre history.  But, I digress.

Christina thought we could go down (by tube) to Victoria Station, buy the tickets for Brighton and the walk down to the Old Vic by way of Westminster.  Accepting that it was Saturday and likely to be jammed with tourists, we figured it would be easy enough to walk by (not go in) and take a few pictures. The best laid plans……..

We came out of Victoria Station and headed up Victoria Street. This street is very modern and really felt more like, NYC. Lots of building going on and not much old or attractive.  We did pass one interesting church which I, think was the Westminster Roman Catholic Cathedral.

This Westminister Catholic Cathedral as best I can tell.

This is Westminster Catholic Cathedral as best I can tell.

 

We got to Westminster Abbey and the crowds began to swell. By the time we fought (and I do mean fought) our way across the street to Westminster Hall (Parliament) the crowds were surging and movement became almost impossible with people blocking the sidewalk taking pictures (I had given up at this point). We literally fought our way to Bridge Street.  The sidewalks were thick with people and across the street (on the side we needed to be on) there was a protest. I don’t mean a few people with signs, there were a lot of them. We had no choice so, into the swarm we went and it was the Palestinians protesting so it wasn’t real comfortable.  We made it down to the bridge to cross the Thames and the tensions quickly eased.

Front of Westminster Abbey.

Front of Westminster Abbey.

The side of Westminister Abbey.

The side of Westminster Abbey.

Westminister Abbey - the back door.

Westminster Abbey – the back door.

This courtyard on themfar side of the Abbey houses Westminister School, an elite school boasting alumni such as John Dryden, Christopher Wren and Peter Ustinov.

This courtyard on the far side of the Abbey houses Westminster School, an elite school boasting alumni such as John Dryden, Christopher Wren and Peter Ustinov.

We got pretty close today. Too bad we were running for our lives with the crowd.

We got pretty close today. Too bad we were running for our lives with the crowd.

Once we got across we moved onto the Old Vic. We were early so, we went to the bar for a sandwich and a glass of wine. We were both looking forward to seeing this production.  The reviews have been excellent and we have avoided reading them. However, we do know the production runs 3 1/2 hours with one interval. We had great seats in the upper balcony and the theatre was almost full. The theatre for this season has been reconfigured into arena seating (in the round).  It is interesting to note that an American (Kevin Spacey) has been the artistic director for the last ten years.

This production was beautiful, terrifying and totally mesmerizing. From the opening moments the director establishes the tone with a death march-like ritual of establishing the setting. The tensions build through out the evening until the devastating conclusion. You are drawn into the conflict and, for me, anger and tears for those wronged by the hunt. Miller wrote the play in the fifties as a reaction to the witch hunt going on in Washington with House UnAmerican Activities Committee. This production, while somewhat (can’t really be helped, it is written that way) melodramatic captures the tensions, the emotions and most importantly the fear of the community.  The acting of the ensemble (24 actors) was brilliant and the design of the production was just fabulous. The spare set was created for each scene by the actors and the ritualistic nature contributed to the dark mood of the play. I could go on and on.

Program cover from The Crucible

Program cover from The Crucible

We left the theatre exhausted because it was emotionally draining and headed up to Hampstead.  Christina wanted to take me to this crepe stand that we couldn’t go to the first time because it was closed.  It was worth the wait. The line was longish but the show with the two french guys running it was worth the wait.  They were charming and good-looking even though Christina said they could be a little curt with customers. Their running dialogue in French as they worked together was fun and the food was very good. We found a bench on the street,  enjoyed dinner which Christina pointed out was probably not very good for us. Rich with a lot of butter and cheese.  After eating we went back the the Holly Bush Pub. I enjoyed a gin and tonic and relaxed in this most British of institutions.

The Holly Bush Pub. It is on a quiet little street of another quiet little street.

The Holly Bush Pub. It is on a quiet little street of another quiet little street.

Leaving Hampstead and heading back home. We took this quiet little street (?) after leaving the pub.

Leaving Hampstead and heading back home. We took this quiet little street (?) after leaving the pub.

It has been an excellent day with many surprises and it won’t be long til I’m home. This time next week I’ll be back in my own bed.