Archive for October, 2011

Theatre Preview Autumn 2011

Welcome, or welcome back, to the theatre section of The Beaver. This year we are going to bring you reviews of some of the biggest plays, musicals, and festivals as well as a healthy dose of coverage of what’s going on the fringes of theatreland. For those of you new to London, or for those jaded Brits who have fallen out of lust for London or simply have never explored what The West End has to offer, we can truthfully say that there has never been a better time to sit in a darkened room with a bunch of strangers. For one thing, student deals are now virtually ubiquitous. If you toddle on down to whichever theatre is currently housing your preferred style of show and present your student card, they will offer you the best remaining seat in the house for around £17.50. This can only be done for performances on the same day as purchase, and you should ring ahead to check that they are operating the promotion. Also know that when the Royal Shakespeare Company are in town you can get tickets for £5 just for being between the ages of 18 and 25, the same age bracket that’s gets you into The National Theatre for that same small sum. The opera house operates the Travelex £10 student standby. And get this – if you review a show for The Beaver we can help you get a ticket absolutely free of charge! Just email partb-theatre@thebeaveronline.co.uk if there is an opening that you think our students need to know about. So, aside from being much cheaper to go to the theatre than you previously thought, why else should your bum be on those velvet seats? We give you three reasons:

 1. Relevance: Theatre isn’t all sequins and ridiculous musical numbers; even in the West End which is normally reserved for glitz and glamour there can be powerful dramas that deal with issues close to the hearts of students of the social sciences. Seeing situations brought to life on the stage can add bring a visceral relevance to worlds that we may only otherwise experience vicariously through the media or our textbooks. This summer I was lucky enough to be invited to an Elton John AIDS Foundation gala performance of The Normal Heart in New York City, which is rumoured to be touring to London at some point in 2012. Larry Kramer’s play, which deals honestly and brutally with the early AIDS crisis, is protest theatre at its compelling best. I have never before been to a performance where soliloquies received standing ovations; such was the power of the script and cast! The terror and horror of being a gay man in that time was something I had heard about through the ever dwindling number of people that lived through it, but it was in The Golden Theatre that the issues really came alive. By making real, situations that to LSE students may only be theoretical, the theatre can show us the true consequences of our opinions and studies, and this can be carried back over into academic work.

 In particular look out for Saved by Edward Bond, a timely revival at The Lyric Hammersmith (which opens on October 13) of the 1965 play which looks at how a bunch of working class youths oppressed by the economic system drift into acts of social violence. Elsewhere Mike Bartlett’s new play 13 receives its world premiere on October 18 at The Olivier Theatre (part of The National Theatre complex on The Southbank). The play is about protest and social empowerment in the face of economic gloom and government interference. Bartlett is a young playwright whose last work to be staged at The National, Earthquakes, caused a stir by taking on society’s complacency concerning global warming, and given the current social climate it looks like 13 is due to be an equally well-timed reflection on themes surrounding political protest. Meanwhile from October 11 if you can get a ticket for the near sold out Bang Bang Bang  at the Royal Court theatre you will be immersed in the world of a jaded humanitarian worker in a play by Stella Feehily that explores the themes and contradictions of those embroiled in aid work in Africa.

 2. Escapism: Yes, life at the LSE can be tough, rigorous, demanding and sometimes even tedious. Yes, London in the winter can be a miserable hell of short grey days redolent of a post nuclear blocking out of the sun whose bleakness is surpassed only by the damp drizzle of February and March. Yes, a certain amount of repose can be found at the bottom of pint glass. But thankfully for your liver theatreland is also here to help by providing you with a dose of fantasy, glamour and fun to steal you away from, your worries, at least for a few hours. 

 This season is chock-a-block with feel good theatre. Crazy For You which for some was the early nineties American musical that reclaimed the genre from the British, in particular from Lloyd-Weber. It is a reworked version of Gershwin’s Girl Crazy that retains the original score, working in elements of other Gershwin works. It has dance, jazz, big numbers and all the glitz you could ask for, and it opens at the LSE local, Novello Theatre on October 8. Opening on December 7 at the Gielgud theatre is the hotly anticipated The Ladykillers, a reworking of the Ealing Studios classic crime farce film which originally showcased the huge talent of Alec Guiness. With more twists and turns than the LSE Libya scandal, this promises to be a highly entertaining evening. Lastly, and this is a hot tip, Dame Edna is finally doing her panto debut in Dick Whittington at the New Wimbledon Theatre from December 15. Get your tickets quick they are sure to sell out.

 3. Big names: Every year some of the biggest names in entertainment both homegrown and imported tread the boards here in London. This season is no exception, so take an evening to see masters of their craft strut their stuff on a stage near you.

 Acting royalty Vanessa Redgrave, who impressed PartB by declining an offer of knighthood from the Blair government, is appearing in Driving Miss Daisy at Wyndham’s Theatre from 5 October. Speaking of royalty the regal drama The Lion in Winter which puts the relationship between Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine under the spotlight stars one confirmed national treasure, Joanna Lumley, and also Robert Lindsay whose talents make him deserving of the title although it has not yet been so bestowed by our nation’s media. The show opens on 15 November at The Theatre Royal Haymarket.

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