How I “Theatre” In London

It’s no surprise that I love to see theatre wherever I go.  The fact that I was in London for a week and a half and I only saw 5 shows is astonishing to me.  Yes, I saw Lee Evans live and I did a Jack the Ripper Tour, but only 5?

On this trip I didn’t pre-book anything.  I figured that I’d get to town, grab a Time Out (which is now free and can be found – or not found – in public areas), and then figure out what to see.  For the most part, it worked.

Most theatres in London have day-of tickets, so if you want to take a chance you can book the day of and get a discount.  For “Matilda” (in 2013) Kristen and I got amazing tickets for £35 each; but we were shut out for “The Lion King” (£50 for obstructed view? no thanks).

This allowed me some flexibility, although I do like to have my tickets bought by late morning or early afternoon, so that I know where I’m going that evening.


I tried to get into “War Horse” one day, but they were sold out.  I was given the option to stand in a long line of people waiting for returns or I could buy a seat for the next day’s show.  I think you all know what I did.

But I still didn’t have a ticket for anything tonight.  I wandered over to the Old Vic for “The Playboy of the Western World“.  They were in previews so the ticket wasn’t too expensive – and other than taking longer than usual to open the house everything was great.

After purchasing myticket I still had 2 hours before the show, so I walked over to the National Theatre and perused their bookstore (so many plays!).  While I was there I decided to buy a ticket for “The Kitchen” for 2 nights away.  It was a £12 Travelex ticket, so of course I had to buy it right away.  Also, I’d never been in their Olivier Theatre, so I had to go to complete my National-Theatre-Theatre-Bingo.

"The Woman in Black" - So much better than the movie.
“The Woman in Black” – So much better than the movie.

For “The Woman in Black” I caught a matinee performance (which meant there were a lot of school kids around me).  This show is so much better than the movie.  They use the space well for the show, but I can’t say anything because I don’t want to spoil anything.

And of course, Wicked.
And of course, Wicked.

Wicked” was the fist show I saw.  I paid £35 for second row balcony day-of ticket (it’s relatively easy to find a seat when you go to theatre solo).  The show was so great that I forgot about the thick red safety railing in the lower-left of my vision, as well as the sign-language interpreter on stage.

Theatre in London can be a lot cheaper than theatre in New York (my friend paid $150 for her NY “Wicked” ticket).  Also, I greatly prefer day-of tickets to lotteries.  Even if the day-of tickets sell out you have time to find another show, other than standing in line forever to not get your name picked.  When it comes to theatre I don’t take unnecessary chances.

I really enjoyed most of the plays I saw (“Wicked”, “War Horse” and “The Kitchen”).  “The Woman In Black” was good, but I should have seen it in the evening with less kids around.  “The Playboy” had mostly good acting and an interesting set, but it didn’t knock me out of my seat like the first three, or surprise me like “WIB”.

The one that I would see again in an instant would be “The Kitchen”.  The National Theatre usually knocks my socks off, and this was no exception.  Taking place in a large kitchen full of multicultural workers, the play has no actual food, but don’t tell the performers that.  The smell of the gas ovens, the astounding miming of the chefs… It was part theatre, part dance, part language-lesson.  It was amazing.

As always – I ❤ the National Theatre.

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