West End Theater

After seeing Danny Boyle’s (director of Slumdog Millionaire) Frankenstein tonight, I am compelled to write about all the West End theater hear in London.  West End theater is the equivalent to Broadway in New York and a lot of the same shows play in both cities.  Our theater class has seen a fair deal of West End theater as well as fringe theater.  According to some of the students from New York, London theater rivals Broadway.

Frankenstein tonight was probably the best play I have ever seen.  Danny Boyle’s adaptation from the novel to the stage was fantastic.  I was entertained from start to finish.  The play had a perfect mix of shock, terror, and humor.  The actor that played the creature was astounding.  It is hard to put into words, but about ten minutes into the play I began to see him as the creature and not as a human.  His voice work was as impressive as Colin Firth’s performance in The King’s Speech, and his mannerisms were utterly awkward as if he was thrown together by a crazy doctor.  While I rave about this play, sadly I can’t recommend Frankenstein to anyone because it has no plans of touring so unless you are in London in the next four months sorry for missing out.

Through class we have also gotten to see a modern staging of Hamlet.  As my theater professor says, “You can either see unbelievably good Shakespeare, or you can can see bloody awful Shakespeare.”  The version of Hamlet we saw ended up being the hottest ticket in London, that is until Frankenstein opened.  I am not a huge fan of Shakespeare, but this was the first Shakespeare play that I can say I have been genuinely interested in despite the four hour run time.  Once again I would recommend this play, but it is only touring in the UK.

Instead of continuing to babble about plays that you will never be able see, I will recommend a couple that you could find in the States.  The first is Queen’s We Will Rock You. I had the pleasure of seeing this when my parents came to visit.  The story line made absolutely no sense, but the music was fantastic.  Secondly, we saw Stomp which is a fairly famous street music production in which they make music out of virtually anything you could find in the streets.  With the exception of Frankenstein, Stomp is my favorite show out of the 15 or so productions I have seen.  My third favorite production has been Jersey Boys which is all over Broadway.  If you have the luxury of seeing it in New York let me just say you are lucky that the actors are not English and Scottish actors trying to do New Jersey accents.  For being such a big production you would think they could spend a little more time on voice lessons.  However, Jersey Boys was worth the ticket just to see all the old people in the audience dance and sing along with every song.  It was the most lively and elderly audience I have seen in London.

Sorry if the was flat out boring for you to read, especially if you have no interest in theater.  When I came to London I could have cared less about theater, but I can now say that I have been converted to a theater lover.  I have seen some really great theater in London, and hopefully some of you will have a chance to see some of these great productions somewhere in the States.