Greetings from London! As I sit and type this (hopefully brief) blog post, I am sitting in a Covent Garden hotel surrounded by West End theatres. The purpose of my visit? To go to the theatre of course! It has struck me over this weekend just how incredibly lucky I am to be able to go to so much live theatre. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live in London, it’s not as simple as just strolling on over to a theatre and grabbing a ticket.
But, relatively speaking, I find theatre extremely accessible, if I plan in advance. And it was yesterday, after snow had stranded us at Watford Junction, meaning our original plan to go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour was scuppered, that we regrouped in the hotel and wondered how we could spend our wasted Sunday if we couldn’t get to the Studio Tour. A text came from my friend Liz’s dad, as he suggested trying to get return tickets for the Cursed Child play. As the snow had cut off so many people, return tickets were coming in thick and fast as people just couldn’t get into London to see the show. Half an hour later, after a rather reckless purchase, and we’d landed seats in the front row of the Grand Circle for both parts of Cursed Child. I realised very suddenly how incredibly lucky I was to be able to impulsively take that chance of offered tickets and get to see such a sought after play.
(By the way, the price of the tickets? Worth it. So incredibly worth it. The amount of effects and stage craft involved in the performance, let alone the actors themselves, is well worth the price of admittance. But I won’t say anymore because #KeepTheSecrets!)
On Saturday we went to see two long running West End musicals – Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, both of which were incredible, obviously. (Les Mis made me cry… again.) And tonight? We’ve somehow managed to score tickets for Hamilton. No I’m not entirely sure how we managed it and I won’t even believe it’s real until we’re in the room where it happens. But my point is, wow, it has been a theatre filled weekend and I bloody love theatre. Sometimes it helps to be reminded of that fact. Watching performances of any kind is just… astonishing, the amount of love and energy goes into each and every show has always amazed me.
But the beauty and the sadness in it is that it’s an ephemeral experience, you live it, and then it goes away and you can’t re-experience it unless you buy another ticket for another day, hopefully with the same cast but that’s not a given by any means. And the show is never the same, ever, audiences react in different ways, different beats are hit, sometimes something will strike a chord one night but not another. And then, maybe, the show will close and you can’t re-experience it again, for all the money in the world. There’s something devastating about that, but also something I adore about theatre.
I’ve been fortunate enough to see some of my favourite performers perform, without any way of reexperiencing that aside from my own (terrible) memory. I saw David Tennant and Tom Hiddleston perform Shakespeare (in the RSC’s Richard II and Donmar Warehouse’s Coriolanus respectively), something I never dreamed I’d get a chance to do, but I did, I was there! And I’m so incredibly grateful for that opportunity to buy tickets to see something so ephemeral.
However, trying to capture the essence of something that is so transitory, to tell a friend or family member, or to review it even, is more difficult that I ever thought it would be. Oh, I will try, undoubtedly I will write up reviews of everything I saw this weekend, but I know I will fall short because there’s something quite indescribable (for me, at least) about ephemeral things such as theatre. Maybe that’s the point, maybe that’s why we will gladly pay big bucks for tickets to things (whether sports games, plays, musicals, concerts), because that moment of realisation of ‘I’m really here and seeing this, this is so amazing, I can’t capture this moment, but I can live it and try to remember it’ weirdly puts you in the experience more than if you knew you could relive it easily. Basically, I bloody love theatre and this might very well be my ineloquent love letter to it.
I know this is a strange post, and probably contains little of value. I just had a ‘wow’ moment yesterday as I was watching Cursed Child and I had to try to work out some of my own musings via this blog. But still, do you like theatre and musicals? Do you often get to see shows or is it a once in a lifetime treat because of things such as location? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat theatre!