The Mutineer and I are a bit obsessed with the theatre. We’re starving students, and the theatre is cheaper than the cinema (sometimes), so what are a couple of fangirls to do on a Saturday night? We’ve been traipsing about the West End quite frequently of late for, um, writing research. So here’s a few shows to hit up the next time you’re in London or it comes to your city.
The Book of Mormon
This is, hands down, the funniest play I’ve ever seen. It’s irreverent, sacrilegious, and guaranteed to offend somebody.
The creators of South Park bring us the story of Elder Price, a young Mormon boy who is about to leave on his two year mission for the Church. He hopes to be sent to Orlando, but is sent to northern Uganda instead, accompanied by the overeager Elder Cunningham. What follows is a crisis of face, and the most interesting retelling of the book of Mormon that you’ll ever hear. I guarantee it.
I found this play to be so damned blasphemous, that I saw it twice. You can see it at the Prince of Wales theatre.
This show has been running for thirty years, and for good reason. The music is evocative, the staging is imaginative, and the cast is memorable. It’s tragedy amidst one of the most volatile points in European history, and it has one hell of a soundtrack. (I was singing along to it for weeks afterward!)
You can see Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre.
Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” at the Globe Theatre
What kind of literary nerd would I be if I didn’t go to the Globe at least once?
I was a “groundling” (an affectionate term for those attendees who are in the standing area throughout the play), and I loved it. Before the play begins, the chorus comes out and performs music and dances from the Renaissance period, and occasionally, messes with the crowd on the ground. One of the performers offered to “sell” one of the female dancers to me, for the bargain price of ten gold coin!
Although the play I saw, The Merchant of Venice, has since closed, it’s haunted me for months. It’s a masterful tragicomedy, and yes, I call it that, because the version I saw had me near weeping at the end of it, when the merchant is forced to convert to another religion.
Next you’re in London, go to the Globe. It’s only 5 quid to be a groundling.
Theatre in the Park: “Peter Pan”
This version of Peter Pan followed Barrie’s story closely, but added the tension of a 1914 WWI backdrop to create a fantastical but heart-wrenching tale. The Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park is a great venue, mostly because the limited stage area means that the staging, costuming, and props become creative, imaginative, and resourceful. I was particularly impressed by the costuming and puppetry–Tinkerbell was a lantern maneuvered around the stage by an actress, and the crocodile was repurposed props, maneuvered by actors in uniform.
While Peter Pan has closed for the season, the Open Air Theatre is now showing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
I’ve listened to Green Day’s music for my entire life. That is not an exaggeration, and for many of their fans, it’s the truth. One of the biggest rock bands in the world has influenced generations, and it was only a matter of time before their music became a musical. As a GD fan, I’m glad that the band put the musical together, rather than a nostalgic theatre major two decades down the road.
This musical is in London for a limited time, and if you can, go see it. It’s nostalgic, it’s political, it’s emotional, it’s revolutionary. In short: this is everything about Green Day that made them the musical powerhouse they are today.
Until next time, rock on.
For more about London, check out our Nerd Travels posts.