Allen Morrison’s Eyes on London

A brief before and after thoughts by Allen Morrison on his last London Theatre Tour.
Saturday November 26th Playboy of the Western World
Guys, we’re hitting the ground sprinting.  This is the final, closing night performance of one of the great plays in English theatre history, being performed at the most hallowed theatre in London, the Old Vic. This is like Christmas morning for theatre history lovers.  I can only imagine there’ll be some kind of ceremony at the end of it all, flowers, champagne, crying, speeches.  Who knows, we’ll just have to see.  At any rate, we’ll have to get dressed up for this one.  This show will also help us meet our “Irish accent” quota for the tour.
Our first show was at the Old Vic.  We saw Playboy of the Western World and it was great.  A very traditional interpretation of the script and a lovely production. 
Sunday November 27th Free Day
Monday November 28th The Comedy of Errors
If you’re going to London to watch some theatre, you have to see a Shakespeare show.  This is showing at the National Theatre on the Olivier Stage.  It seems as though they’ve given a modern setting for this production.  Personally, I love it when Shakespeare is given a contemporary interpretation, it shows its timelessness. My very first professional gig after theatre school was in a touring production of The Comedy of Errors out of Montreal so this play has a bit a of a place in my heart.
On Monday night we saw Comedy of Errors at the National Theater.  This was truly fantastic.  They did a modern interpretation of the script and I think it really helped to bring the story alive.  Shakespeare’s texts are timeless and seeing this story set in a contemporary London setting really underlined that. Personally, this has been my favorite so far.
Tuesday November 29th The Women in Black (matinee)
This is a ghost story.  The website claims it’s “The most terrifying live theatre experience in the world”.  It’s being turned into a movie staring Daniel Radcliffe aka Harry Potter.  It’s at the Fortune Theatre.  I think it’s going to be bone chillingly fantastic.  I did, however, make sure to schedule it as our matinee so that we won’t step out of the theatre into the dark London night.
On Tuesday we saw a matinee performance of the horror ghost story, The Woman in Black another excellent production. Very suspenseful and, at times, terrifying.  What made this really exciting though, for me, was that there was also a field trip of about seventy high school students in the audience who were very vocal about screaming in terror at all the right moments.  We were basically watching a horror
film with a bunch of kids and it made it even better because they were so into it.
Reasons to be Pretty (evening show)
Neil LaBute is a popular American playwright and film director.  This show is the final part of his trilogy on society’s obsession with beauty.  It stars some fairly well known British film and TV stars.  It plays at the Almeida Theatre.  
Tuesday evening we saw “Reasons to be Pretty” out at the Almeida. A very gritty and brilliantly acted American play.  This one incited the most lively post-show discussion so far as the play really questions modern relationships and marriage as well as the obsession with beauty.  The tube ride back home was a barrage of differing opinions and points of view on the topics that the play raised.  Theatre is supposed to provoke discussion and this production certainly did just that.
Wednesday November 30th Improv Night
I’ll be performing in an improv comedy show with the London group, Catch 23.  Everyone’s invited, though this is not something that’s part of our “official” schedule.  Improv is one of my favorite things to do and if you’re unfamiliar with what it is, exactly, think of the TV show “Who’s Line Is It Anyway”.  Scenes made up on the spot before your very eyes based on suggestions from the audience.  It’s pretty great. Not sure what the venue is going to be yet.
Improv show on Wednesday night.  I performed with an all-Canadian team against two local London teams.  Needless to say, we won in a landslide.
 Thursday December 1st Jerusalem 
This is the one…..  This is the one show of all the ones we’re going to see that I’m the most excited about.  It is the first show I bought tickets for and I built the entire schedule around it.  It’s one of the hottest shows in town and it was very difficult getting tickets for it.  My aunt saw it in New York and says it’s amazing.  The lead, Mark Rylance, supposedly delivers a powerhouse performance.  It’s won tons of awards.  Click on the title above and scroll down on the show’s website and read some of the reviews.  We’re going to love this.  It’s at the Apollo theatre.
Friday December 2nd Pippin
This is the musical on our schedule.   It’s happening at the Menier Chocolate Factory, which appears to be a pretty intimate space so this should be a nice complement  to our schedule.  You can read up about some of the play’s history here.  Apparently there’s also a pretty good restaurant at the theatre that might be fun to eat at before the show of Friday.
Saturday December 3rd 39 Steps 
Based on the John Buchanan novel and the Alfred Hitchcock film, this adaptation by Patrick Barlow is straight up farcical comedy.  It’s a stylized whodunit mystery with some fantastic physical comedy and witty wordplay thrown on top.  I think this is going to be hilarious and it felt like the perfect conclusion to our tour.  It’s playing at the Criterion Theatre.