London hosts some of the worlds most incredible plays. Every week there are new plays and shows being welcomed to the stages across the capital. If you’re studying theatre or have a passion for the stage, then London is the perfect place for you. Jon Reccia, AIFS Student Blogger studying with Illinois Wesleyan University, shares with us his top must see plays. Read below to find out what they were:
For most of my upbringing, I have been a casual theater fan. Other than attending the occasional professionally done show in the nearby city of Chicago, I really only went to school plays or cheap amateur productions in my hometown. But after being in London for almost a month now, I can officially say that I am a theater addict!
The classes I am taking through the AIFS study abroad program in London heavily emphasise the study of performance art. This is giving myself and my peers great exposure to world class theatrical performance in some of the most famous venues on a weekly basis. There have been a few plays that I have seen that have had a profound impact on me for a variety of reasons. In my first blog post for AIFS I’m going to share a few plays that you should see while in London, or if they move the production to a place near you.
Much Ado About Nothing, Directed by Matthew Dunster, Globe Theater
Running at Shakespeare’s historic Globe Theater is Shakespeare’s very own work Much Ado About Nothing. However, there is a twist. Rather than setting the play in Italy like the original play intended, director Matthew Dunster has it take place in Mexico. The play follows the return home from brothers Claudio and Benedick from the first wave of the Mexican revolution and the love they have for sisters Hero and Beatrice respectfully.
The culture was expressed beautifully by incorporating the traditional and immaculate clothing style, live music, and lively singing and dancing. The acting was superb from almost everyone in the cast, especially from Matthew Needham and Beatriz Romilly who played Benedick and Beatrice. Their chemistry was a great treat to watch and set a humorous and romantic mood throughout. The whole play was exciting, hilarious, light hearted and thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. Plus, the atmosphere of it taking place at the Globe made it a memorable evening!
Girl From the North Country, Directed by Connor McPherson, Old Vic Theater
This original production written and directed by the award winning Connor McPherson takes place in Duluth, Minnesota in 1934. It follows a community living in the local guesthouse. The owner, Nick, owes more money than he can ever repay, his wife Elizabeth is losing her mind and their daughter Marianne is carrying a child no-one will account for. Additionally, Bob Dylan’s iconic discography of music is interwoven throughout the play, adding to the heartbreak and soul of the show.
This play was great for a lot of reasons. With a seasoned cast of performers it was no surprise that the acting was top notch. What really caught me by surprise was the singing, it was amazing top to bottom. Every single performer brought a unique and powerful voice to the Dylan covers that were put on during the show, which leads into something else I adored. No matter what the characters intentions were in the show, every scene or two the ensemble would group together to sing a song. This expressed the themes the show was trying to give to us in a powerful way. The choreography and passion coming from the performers was a great visual. I will definitely be listening to this soundtrack in the coming months, check it out!
The Ferryman, Directed by Sam Mendes, Gielgud Theater
Acclaimed director Sam Mendes brings us a play set in Northern Ireland, 1981. It follows the large Carney family at their farmhouse during preparations for the annual harvest. All seems well until a visitor comes to the house, ruining a day of hard work on the land and a traditional night of feasting and celebrations.
This play was absolutely incredible, probably the best I have ever seen. The large ensemble cast playing the Carney family has an unreal amount of chemistry with each other, which needed to be portrayed to effectively tell this story. By the end of the show, the emotional connection the viewer makes with almost every character makes the conflict of the story so intense. This script has so many layers giving the audience many ideas to think about and storylines to latch on to. It’s a family drama, political commentary, and a romance story all wrapped up into one, and they all worked together beautifully. It’s a three act show that’s over 3 hours long, but everyone in my row was begging for more. I was also one of these people, so I had to buy tickets to see it again!
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