Saturday, July 26, 2008


I had to get up early this morning to get a ticket for tonight's show at the Donmar Warehouse. We were only able to buy 14 tickets initially, so we needed one more. And that would be the ticket for me. So it was go big or go home. I knew what I had to do. I got up at the crack of dawn, drug myself onto the tube, and got in the little line forming outside of the theatre. The Donmar Warehouse, in case you don't know, is the edgy little bricks and mortar studio hidden on Neal Street - which is more like a back alley. Sam Mendes is the artistic director, and people like Gwyneth Paltrow, Ian McKellen, and Nicole Kidman do shows there. Next year they have this for their line-up:
That's Kenneth Branagh in Ivanov, Derek Jacobi in Twelfth Night, Judi Dench in Madame de Sade, and Jude Law in Hamlet.

Anyway. Back to my completely uninteresting story about how I had to buy an extra ticket. I had to wait for about 90 minutes and make small talk with the other people in line. They were nice, but 90 minutes is a lot of small talk. At one point we talked about our shoes, etc. Oh, those look comfortable! etc. In the end the Donmar issued only 10 extra tickets and I was number 11. The fates have spoken. But I got a standing ticket, which I can live with.

For Anna Mortimer's birthday she got cupcakes, flowers, and a trip to the Tower of London. Everyone wants to celebrate their birthday with jewels, ravens, and beheadings - can I get a what-what? We took a Beefeater tour, and this year our Beefeater was actually funny (I'm looking at YOU, grumpy old man from last year.) They all use the same jokes, but some of them know how to really deliver them. I was unimpressed as always with the big fake crown jewels, but was definitely impressed with the butch lady guard who accosted some German guy taking pictures.

Following Anna's birthday lunch at Wagamama's, the majority of the group returned to the Tower for more battle axes and young prince smothering, but I wanted something more: something taller and steam-engined. So Alex, Joe, and I walked to the Tower Bridge, which I'm ashamed to say I have never actually been in. I enjoyed going in the Bridge a lot and loved learning about the history via CGI movies. Think Polar Express set on the Thames. We visited the engine room, and learned about how they actually built this enormous bridge in the middle of a swift and deep river. There are all these little games you can play up on the top walkway, including opportunities to dress up in Victorian jackets and take pictures. Later we saw this photo opp, and I'm sure you will be happy that we did not pass it up. Please enjoy the most awesome pictures I've taken in a long time:

Alex, Joe, and I wandered back up the South Bank and passed all kinds of fountains, flower shops, and book sales on the street. We went through Southwark cathedral and tried to figure out who all of the characters in the Shakespeare window were. It's always nice to walk around and see what you see. London always has something fantastic, strange, or beautiful happening.

Tonight's play was The Chalk Garden. I think most of the group was a little apprehensive about it because we read it in class and it's a little weird and stylised. But it was incredible. The actors were all so perfectly timed and the mood of everything was so carefully directed with detail and nuance. It was subtle and hilarious. It's all about how you have to keep your life rooted in a strong foundation or you will never grow. After the play was over we gathered in the street and all of the students were talking about what a transformative experience it was. One of them said "THIS is why we come to London." And I agree. Because you won't see this quality of theatre anywhere else. It's world class.

But back to my story about getting a ticket. Turns out there was an empty seat right at the end of the row where our group was sitting. Like it was meant for me. So I think the Gods were testing me. I took it, prayed for the show to start, and then relaxed for the next two hours in a comfortable seat I never paid for.