Saturday, 23 August 2014

Summer Theatre Season 2014

It's been a great summer for culture vultures like myself (ahem). I never thought I'd be a theatre goer, the idea of sitting through a Shakespeare play sounded terribly boooooring in my younger days and the few musicals I saw only served the purpose of putting me off even more (there's something about actor's singing lines of dialogue that makes me cringe, still).

This summer has been a pretty good one for theatre, if not for my wallet...it's not the cheapest hobby but nothing compares to live acting and there are deals out there. The Globe does standing tickets for only £5, The National Theatre has a great scheme for under 25s and Time Out Offers regularly have ticket offers. For the very brave, there's also the option of queuing for day tickets but that inevitably involves getting up at an ungodly hour! Going to plays mid-week or at the end of their run when there are more tickets available usually works out cheaper, too.



I saw three plays at The Globe - Titus Andronicus, Anthony and Cleopatra and Julius Caeser - and it didn't rain for any of them! I opted for the £15 seats which are not the most comfortable but well worth the extra £10 given how long the plays are (hire a cushion for £1 - you won't regret it!). The theatre itself is amazing with the full Shakespearean experience re-created with insense being burnt on the stage before the show and "interesting" interval entertainment. Titus was my favourite of the three - it was so gory, people in the audience were fainting! I love a bit of gore and it's amazing how a play written so long ago can still shock in an age when we've become pretty de-sensitised to gore and horror. Whatever the play, the mood is definitely lightened by the cast's song and dance at the end. Clapping along, you almost feel like you are back in Shakespearean times.


The Roof at the National Theatre's Doon Street car park was one of the strangest theatre experiences I've had. I saw it on an amazingly sunny evening which added to the surreal aspect of it, watching the sun go down over a set which resembled a post-apocalpytic 1980s computer game. We all wore silent disco style headphones through which the soundtrack is played. A short but sweet hour of strangeness which made me feel nostalgic about the early 1990s computer games I played as a child.


One of the most star-studded plays of the summer, I had high hopes for this as I love Carey Mulligan as a film actress. I'm not sure if it was the very dialogue heavy script but I didn't think her talents filtered through to the stage particularly well. Bill Nighy stole the show as a midlife-crisis suffering businessman and the set (the inside of an ex-local authority flat) and and thoughts of Mulligan's character did strike a chord as a fellow 20-something living the London "dream".


My unexpected favourite of the summer - Medea. I wasn't sure whether I would enjoy this when a friend offered me a spare ticket but on finding out that it starred Helen McCrory and a soundtrack by Goldfrappp I was intrigued. The play is based on a Greek tragedy and is, in a way, the ultimate story of a broken-hearted woman's revenge. While the subject matter is grim (Medea kills her children in revenge for her husband's betrayal), the play dealt with it in a sensitive manner. And this quote though...

" .... we women are the most unfortunate.
First, we need a husband, someone we get
for an excessive pric
e. He then becomes
the ruler of our bodies. And this misfortune
adds still more troubles to the grief we have.
Then comes the crucial struggle: this husband
we've selected, is he good or bad?
For a divorce loses women all respect,
yet we can't refuse to take a husband.
Then, when she is taken away from her family into her husband's home,
with its new rules and different customs,
she needs a prophet's skill to sort out the man
whose bed she shares. She can't learn that at home.
Once we've worked hard at this, and with success,
our husband accepts the marriage yoke
and lives in peace—an enviable life.
But if the marriage doesn't work, then death
is much to be preferred. When the man tires
of the company he keeps at home, he leaves,
seeking relief for his distress elsewhere,
outside the home. He gets his satisfaction
with some male friend or someone his own age.
We women have to look at just one man.
Men tell us we live safe and secure at home,
while they must go to battle with their spears.
How stupid they are! I'd rather stand there
three times in battle holding up my shield
than give birth once."

Next up: The Crucible at The Old Vic (my favourite theatre) and, although not until 2015, Benedict Cumberbatch playing Hamlet. Twice!

What have you seen at the theatre this summer?
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2 comments

  1. I haven't been to the theatre in so long, I need to book some tickets! I studied Medea at college and it is AWESOME!

    Maria xxx

    ReplyDelete
  2. Medea is such an incredible play. And you are going to love The Crucible!
    x

    ReplyDelete

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