A little background: Dan made a visit to the United Kingdom
over the last month(May 13-June 10) to study Theatre in Great Britain or English 361 at the UIUC
Actually, I didn't spend the whole time in London. I began in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. I saw 5 plays performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Henry IV, part 1
The Comedy of Errors
As You Like It
Stratford reminded me of an Amish community. Serious attempts at history were evident, but the Disney touch of overemphasized tourism was annoying. I got the feeling that the people they were attracting only had a slight knowledge of who Shakespeare (ie. Shakespeare in Love) was and why he is so important to literature and drama.
The productions by the RSC were very well done except As You Like It, which had serious flaws in music and set design. All bitching aside, Alexandra Gilbreath was excellent as Rosalind. Henry, Richard II, and The Rivals all were great overall, with Richard taking the lead as my favorite performance. If you are in the area, I reccomend all those productions.
Cool things to do in Stratford: The Dirty Duck (also known as the The Black Swan) is a pub right on the River Avon. A pretty cozy place where the actors from the RSC hang out after their performances. They have a pretty large selection of beer on tap. Otherwise, you can do all the tourist crap like The Birthplace, The Grave. Make sure you really see an RSC production. Even if they are bad, they are still an experience.
I can tell you the whole story of London, but I'll just give you some really interesting highlights. I saw eighteen plays in London. Most of which were excellent, only a couple made me wretch. The Villian's Opera being one of the them. It is a modern rewrite of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera set in the criminal underworld of London. One of the major flaws in the show was a extremely offensive strip/showtune scene in which several strippers sang about their dignity as women while rubbing credit cards on their 'junk'. Another scene featured a bunch of horribly inept thugs singing 'Street Crime!' while banging out of rhythm on a car hood. It made me uncomfortable watching it, so I don't even know what they were feeling.
Only plays I saw included: Passion Play, Venecia, Dolly West's Kitchen, Copenhagen, Coriolanus, Hamlet, and The Tempest. Hamlet and The Tempest were at the Globe, which is a replica of an Elizabethan playhouse that used to be on the bankside. They really play up to the audience there, which was really enjoyable.
The most enjoyable thing I did in London was go to a restaurant called the Tiroler Hut in the Bayswater area. It's an Austrian restaurant in the basement of a Blockbuster video. Everyone was wearing leiderhosen and there was a fellow in the corner who played accordian music the whole night. They serve beer in 1 liter steins and the food is unbelievably expensive, but unbelievably good. If you live in London or are visiting, one must go here and stay at least till 2 when the place closes. Be prepared to spend alot of money though. A group of 10 of us spent 351 pounds which is around $530 dollars or so and only half of us ate dinner.
There is probably a helluva lot more to say, but I am still trying to get used to America again. Just thought I tell all of you about my trip.