This is my final full day in London and to keep myself out of the stores, I have discount tickets for two more productions, a play and a musical. If you have been following the blog you know this is day 3 of 3 days in London with two shows each day. Pure heaven for Natasha. I love that discount tickets are available even several days in advance so I could do a little planning.
I had some cash from my last visit to London that is no good. The paper 5 and 10-pound notes have been reissued in a more plastic feeling version. So I have to go convert these old notes. Since I don’t have an account at a London bank, I have to go to “headquarters”, The Bank of England. The Bank was started in 1694 as a private bank for the govenment and is now the Central Bank for the United Kingdom. Luckily we are staying in the Financial District so there is a branch (actually the main location) within walking distance.
Apparently the new notes have been circulation since September 2016, but some proprietor was happy to foist the old notes on me during my last visit. According to the Bank of England, the £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill was “the first Bank of England banknote printed on polymer. Polymer is a thin, flexible plastic material that lasts longer, stays cleaner and is harder to counterfeit than paper banknotes.”
Not surprisingly, there is a lot of security at the bank, sometimes referred to as the “Old Lady”. I had to wait in line a while. I found out my 20-pound paper notes were ok and my 10-pound note was in the new material, so I ended up changing only two, five-pound notes. A lot of work for not much reward, but at least the building was interesting and next door was a tube station (not surprising named BANK) that took we directly to Waterloo Station, the closest tube station to the “theater” for my first performance of the day.
The line was direct to and from the Bank station in the financial district and the Waterloo station, on the South Bank; it is the only direct link line in the London underground system. Navigating the Waterloo station is a bit confusing as it is also a major train and bus terminal. There was also construction going on outside. I am now south of the Thames, near the London Eye. I went looking for the theater venue first and once I located it, I found a spot for lunch.
Its my last day in London so I wanted to take advantage of my last chance for authentic fish and chips. I sat next to a charming couple who are also in town for the play. They come with a group to see London productions on a regular basis. He is a retired civil servant and she is a yoga instructor. People I meet when I travel always want to talk about American politics; under the current leadership, it embarrasses me. However, Natasha will share her thoughts when they ask.
I have to admit that one of the reasons I chose this play was because of the venue. The idea of seeing the play in council chambers that look like an English Courtroom intrigued me. I also love Agatha Christie and this is one of her own favorite works. “According to her autobiography, Witness for the Prosecution was one of Agatha Christie’s favourites of all her works, stating: ‘One night at the theatre stands out in my memory especially; the first night of Witness for the Prosecution. I can safely say that that was the only first night I have enjoyed… It was one of my plays that I like best myself.’”
The fact that I am a lawyer, particularly a litigator, means that courtroom dramas fascinate me. It was not a hard choice to make this selection. The promotion material drew me in. “A brand new, site-specific production of Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution will be staged in a a unique court room setting inside County Hall, adjacent to the London Eye on London’s South Bank…[It] will place the audience in the centre of the action within the court room.”
The acting was superb and they did very well with the limited set. But of course, they had this amazing room. The actors moved smoothly in and out of the council chambers, often passing right by me. Its a great play to begin with and includes-in true Christie fashion-a wonderful twist. I highly recommend this special production.
After the play, it was back to the Waterloo Station to head to Piccadilly. I found my next theater venue easily and then wandered around the area. This week the country celebrated the anniversary of VE Day, or V Day, Victory in Europe Day, the end of World War II. There were lots of flags out; the country is also celebrating the wedding of Price Harry to Meghan Markle. Plenty of souvenirs celebrate the event and I picked up the one Emma had requested.
I was once again in the area of Chinatown, but today opted for Italian Food near the theater. Once inside, a single patron was vacated her place and offered me her spot by the window. Here I enjoyed the food and watched the world go by.
Tonight, I am seeing a musical, Everybody’s Talking about Jamie. This show was not on my radar before I came over, but I heard so many wonderful things about it from other theater patrons I have met the last few days I thought I would give it a try. I got a pretty good seat purchasing my discount ticket at TKTS on Leicester Square. From this retailer, you have to buy your tickets in person, but you can check out availability on-line. You can also buy discount tickets up to two days in advance of the show. More tickets become available closer to the show and sometime the discount increases as well.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie centers around a 16-year old boy from Sheffield who wants to be a drag queen; the musical was inspired by a true story. The telling of the story started as a documentary film, was supported by regional theater and eventually became the West End musical currently playing at the Apollo Theater. The real break-out star is John McCrea who plays the title role character of Jamie. McCrea already has a string of theater (including West End), television, and film credits, but he is beyond phenomenal in this role. He played the part in the original Sheffield production and transferred to the West End. To be honest, you must see the very tall, platinum blond McCrea in this role. I can’t image the production without him.
I loved the musical. Its a strong story, very sad at some points and hysterically funny at others. Great staging with the band just above the action at all times and a set that transitions easily. And what about the musical numbers? Of course the choreography and costuming is fantastic, but I just loved the music. It is not typical for me to buy the CD after the production, but this time I bought it at intermission. Yes, it was not good.
After the show, I made my train connections from Piccadilly. I throughly enjoyed 5 of the 6 productions I saw. Its been a great trip to London for me; I just love theater here. Until I travel again…Natasha