During my month in London, I took the opportunity to see four different shows for (relatively) inexpensive prices. Among the variety of ways you can get tickets are going to the ticket booth in Leicester Square on the morning of the show (the booth opens up at 10 a.m., but the line begins earlier than that), finding tickets online from sites such as Amazon Tickets, or using second-hand sites such as StubHub. Typically StubHub tickets cost considerably more, but the site is usually the only way to see highly in-demand shows, and sometimes the site sells the tickets for extremely cheap prices as the seller gets freaked out closer to the show date.
Without further ado, here are some mini-reviews of the four shows I saw:
4. Les Misérables
Victor Hugo’s novel was adapted into a French play in the 1980s, and the English production has been running in London for over 30 years. That’s impressive, but unfortunately the show doesn’t quite hold up. It can be quite exciting, especially in the scenes in the second act set on the barricade, but the actors seem to have been directed to sing each note as just as loudly and “impressively,” which diminishes the emotion of the piece. Only the actor playing Valjean and the actress playing Eponine break out of this emotional rut to give their characters any true depth. (Side note: the writer of the show’s music, Claude-Michel Schonberg, is a visiting professor at St. Catherine’s this semester, so I am hoping to attend his lectures.)
3. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Part 1
I cannot believe I scored tickets for this show. StubHub really came through, and I got my orchestra-seat ticket for 50 pounds, even though the show has been sold out for a year. #Win. The technical prowess on display throughout the show is unbelievable: the “magic” is honestly beyond imagination (the dementors are TERRIFYING), and the show uses various theatrical tricks (rather than special effects) to create the illusion of magic as well—the audience audibly gasped during a feat of simply lighting design and choreography. And the play has some impressive quick changes—there’s a polyjuice potion scene that must have required the actors to literally run backstage to make their cues. However, Part 1 is not as strong a play as Part 2 and could have used a bit of editing (read: the Trolley Witch Scene), but it’s a perfect setup for the second part.
2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
This is a beautiful stage adaptation of a beloved children’s book. I haven’t read the book myself, so I don’t know if it goes quite into the depths that the play captures. But I legitimately teared up at this show several times. Special kudos goes to the actress playing the protagonist’s mother. She had me sobbing at both of her Act 1 monologues. The direction, as well, is impeccable and modern, with the main character walking up walls and performing an A-Level math problem as if he were emceeing my bar mitzvah.
1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Part 2
I will admit, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is probably the better show, but come on, it’s HARRY POTTER. While the special effects are dialed down a bit from the first part, the emotion is upped immensely, and some much-needed depth is added to the characters to make the storyline seem like more than some well-written fan fiction. The direction in this show is beautiful, from some wonderful choreography to some surprises that pop up throughout the entire theater at the end of the first act. It’s probably the greatest theatrical experience I’ve ever had.
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<p>Scott Abrams is an English Literature major at the University of Rochester and is attending Oxford through IES Abroad Direct Enrollment in the fall semester of 2016. His favorite things include warm woolen mittens and celebrity Twitter feuds. He hopes you won't judge him too harshly.</p>