So I’ve just got back from an amazing trip to London with my boyfriend (my first time)! We packed a lot into our trip, including 5 shows, and touristy things like the London Eye and Madame Tussauds! Here’s a run down of what I thought of the place.
Day 1 – Billy Elliot
Fantastic show, packed full of North-East humour. As I have lived in Sunderland for the last few years, and my boyfriend is a Mackem, we really enjoyed the use of local dialect and thought it was hilarious, however this doesn’t really translate for all audiences, and the people around us lost a lot of the jokes (a personal highlight was a french woman behind us trying to translate “spastic starfish” for her friend!) The choreography in the show was immense, particularly the sections that use both the miners and either all the kids or just Billy. My only criticisms are the songs – not particularly catchy or clever, although well performed by the cast. The theatre was very quiet – both the dress circle and upper circle were shut and we were upgraded to the stalls which were still only half full. Overall I give it a solid 4/5.
Day 2 – Madame Tussauds
Little tip – if you are travelling by train or will be getting a travelcard, take full advantage of the 2 for 1 offers you can get online. Note that you have to buy the travelcard in a train station to qualify, as it has to have the national rail logo. So we both got in for £30 – just as well because we both felt it was only just worth £15 each. I expected a lot more, although we both enjoyed the 4D Marvel experience. Expect to be constantly banged into by camera wielding tourists. Worth a look, but not worth full price entry.
Day 2 – The Woman in Black
I’ve never seen the film, and was told to be terrified of the stage show! It’s in a fairly small, very steep theatre, but we had front row seats in the upper circle so we had a good view. There are only 2 cast members (plus the woman in black) and they held the show excellently, keeping the audience involved throughout. I was expecting it to be a bit scarier, there were very few jumpy moments, and certain sections could have been extended further – such as the nursery scene. Overall it was a decent show – 3/5.
Day 2 – War Horse
Wow. Just, wow. Best theatre I’ve ever seen, no competition. Everything about it was perfect – the minimal set, the staging, the acting, the songs, and the horses were absolutely fantastic. The detail that went into animating the horses was unreal – down to the last little ear flick, it was so easy to believe they were real horses. Bring tissues, the ending is beautiful. Only thing I would suggest is if you are sitting in the circle then don’t get the cheap seats at the side, you will miss some of the action. We sneaked into better seats at the interval and got an amazing view! Definitely go and see! 5/5.
Day 3 – London Eye
Again we used 2 for 1 vouchers with our travelcard so it was under £20 for the both of us. Don’t worry if you are scared of heights, its really not that bad and the views make up for it! The day we went it was quite foggy so we didn’t get the full view across London, but it started snowing when we were at the top which was lovely!
Day 3 – Matilda
Being a massive fan of Tim Minchin (and Matilda the book and film) this was the one I was really excited to see. Just don’t go expecting it to be the same – the story and characters were pretty different from the film. However the set was amazing – most of the furniture such as the school desks, etc came up from the floor or from the ceiling – it’s hard to describe but it looked awesome! The choreography was also unreal, incredibly slick. The only downside is that A LOT of the lyrics were getting lost, and I couldn’t understand most of the songs. However this is a very talented cast, and a show worth seeing. 4/5.
Day 3 – Shrek
This was our last show and another one I was really looking forward to. Note the time on the ticket – it starts at 7 not half past as most musicals do! We missed the first 10 minutes but it turned out not to matter as the script is pretty much exactly the same as the film. Musically I think this was the best of the 5 shows, but overall the production lacked energy. Donkey in particular was so flat throughout, it was like he couldn’t be bothered being there. Shrek and Fiona were both very good, and Lord Farquaad gets a few easy laughs throughout, but the whole show felt rushed. I was really quite disappointed with this one, although this is the one soundtrack I’ll definitely be downloading! 3/5.
So that was the main bits of London, what a fantastic few days! With my Arts Ed audition in London in May we are thinking we will make a few days of it again, and hopefully get to see Wicked and Les Mis this time! Any other suggestions for must-see shows?