Saturday, and I’m starting to feel the crunch. I try to be responsible, you know, be on top of things. Eventually I need to break from the adventure and do some bidness. I need to make copies and print posters and call taxis for Edinburgh. So my morning was basically that. I sent the students off to the National for a backstage tour. We received the dismaying news that the District Line, the Circle Line, and the Jubilee line were closed all weekend. Ababawhat? Those are pretty much the main arteries for us. Only the Picadilly Line offered us tube transportation downtown. Thanks for being there when we needed you, Picadilly.
I made my way awkwardly to the National when I finished my aforementioned bidness, awkwardly because of the aforemention tube closures. But this gave me the opportunity to walk along the Thames. And though it was bottlenecked with the Saturday crowds it was still fun to stop at the book markets and watch the street performers under the London Eye. For a little while I watched this woman create some amazing chalk art.
We saw a matinee of Phedre at the National. It’s an odd play. It’s a French neo-classical writer telling an Ancient Greek story. So you can’t really classify it as French, but you can’t really classify it as Grecian. All that matters is that Helen Mirren was Phedre, and she wore a purple dress and she was a serious cougar. I thought she was fantastic. This is the kind of play where everyone makes really bad decisions and then everyone dies, but in this play characters are actually smashed by and killed by horrifying sea monsters. That’ll teach them!
After the show Levi and Jason and I stayed at the National to walk through a sound instillation called Winter. In the brochure Winter sounded really intriguing, and the pictures looked very cool. But it was pretty dumb. You put on headphones and this old lady tells a story about her crazy pianist husband. And then she dies (SPOILER) in a hospital and talks a lot about Christmas.
Our second show tonight was Billy Elliot. I would never have guessed that I would have liked Billy Elliot as much as I did. I have seen the movie, and the musical is pretty faithful to it. But they seemed to really capture the community and spirit of North England and I loved the dialects. I don’t know how they could find a boy actor who can sing, act, and dance like this kid could. Amazing. My friend told me that they actually have little Billy Elliot farms - where they grown little Billy’s and teach them the songs and dances for the show. However it works, it is a thrilling piece of musical theatre. Elton John wrote the music, and nothing sounds like Lion King. Many of the students proclaimed this their favorite show, and I agree. Certainly it’s in my top five.