I’ve been down in London a fair bit this summer for work and for fun so thought I’d give a wee round-up of what I got up to including 8 rapid show reviews plus food, art and book-related activities!
It’s always lovely to get down to see pals again and I managed to go down for two of the hottest weekends, so it really felt like I was on holiday in another country which was a treat (but sometimes a bit too sweaty).
Legally Blonde at Regents Park Open Air Theatre was so much fun, I loved how they updated the show to make it feel more current and seeing such different casting was so refreshing. The whole cast was so talented and I loved how fun the choreography was. Found the humans dressed as dogs a little odd, but I can let it go.
It was very cool to finally see Oklahoma in person as it’s such an iconic piece in the MT canon. This production had such interesting staging, and it really helped to focus on the drama of the piece, amplifying the great performances of the cast. Although I did miss the big dance scenes that would typically be involved.
The adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird brought a modern sensibility to a classic story, which is timeless but can seem a little white-saviour-ey so it was cool to see the timeless story given a more critical, balanced lens which allows us to not position anyone as a hero but to recognise that everyone is flawed.
Bonnie and Clyde was so freaking good. Being in a smaller theatre made it feel so intense, in the best way. I love the music anyway but seeing in performed on stage by such powerhouses was a total treat. You Love Who You Love gave me goosebumps and Jordan Luke Gage’s range is just insane.
Went back to see Hamilton again, which is obviously incredible. The current cast is so strong and lovely to see the company led by a Scottish actor. Reuben Joseph (Hamilton) was so exciting to watch, Shan Ako is a stunning Eliza and I also loved Simon-Anthony Rhoden as Burr. I got goosebumps, I cried, it got me all riled up – so what more could you want?
Another brilliant rewatch was Come From Away – another one of my favourite musicals. There’s something about the music that really gets me going – jamming with those drum beats and getting slapped in the face with those powerful harmonies. It is such a beautiful show and I’m so glad I got to see it and feel those emotions again before it closes in London. Special shout-outs to Me and the Sky (one of the best MT songs period) and to Gemma Knight Jones’ Hannah which broke my lil heart.
Next up is the new 101 Dalmatians musical, also at Regent’s Park. I was super excited about this because I was obsessed with dalmatians as a child but I have to be honest, this one was not for me. The concept set Cruella as a social media influencer which made me cringe a bit. None of the songs were particularly memorable either. The puppets were really cool, the performances were great and the young actors playing the puppies were super cute.
And finally, Punchdrunk’s new immersive production The Burnt City. In a big space, you’re free to walk around at your own pace and explore the set design, the performers use physical theatre and dance to tell the story about the Battle of Troy in Greek mythology which was right up my street. It’s such a cool thing to explore but could be confusing if you’re not clued up on the theme. The show was a little shorter because of the super hot weather so I didn’t feel like I had quite enough time to explore everything that I wanted to, but I understand looking after the performer during a heatwave. It’s a cool experience to jump into their world, but since you have to wear two masks, it’s worth going on a cooler day.
We all know I love a bookish adventure and London has plenty on offer. This time we checked out the South Bank second-hand book market – there are loads to browse so it was a lot of fun. I showed some restraint and only picked up 1 book here – Mark Twain’s Can-Cans, Cats and Cities of Ash – but my sister managed to come away with 7 books and a heavy suitcase to take home.
A classic, we made it to Foyles in-between shows which is just heaven for book lovers – I picked up Madeline Miller’s short story Galatea and a gorgeous copy of Manuel Puig’s Kiss of the Spider Woman.
We visited the Crossrail Place Roof Garden in Canary Wharf which is a lovely, calm space and free to access. The cute bookish thing there is a machine that dispenses short stories that you can read in the garden. There are buttons that allow you to choose between 1, 3 and 5-minute reads and I thought it was such a lovely idea. They should put these machines everywhere!
The second best part of going to London (after the theatre) is getting lovely food. Special shout-outs go to Kricket (Indian food), Brindisa (Spanish tapas) and the cheese conveyor belt at Pick & Cheese!
Visiting a gallery is always a lovely time but especially helpful to get some air conditioning during a heatwave. I loved how cute everything at the Small Is Beautiful tiny art exhibition was. We went back to the V&A where I love to visit the Theatre & Performance section but also checked out their special Fashioning Masculinity exhibition which was really cool. And finally, the Surrealism Beyond Borders exhibition at the Tate Modern which was wonderfully weird.