Sunday, 7 August 2011

London Fringe

I have decided that I'm going to become a theatre-goer.

1940s ladies in an opera box, showing off their lovely gowns and
concentrating more on chatting than watching the show...

What's inspired this?  Well, The Cat has booked us tickets to see Chicago in a couple of weeks.  His mum said she'd buy us theatre tickets for Christmas last year and we're only just getting around to going now!  We had a major set-back and disappointment when we realised that Oliver closed months ago because we'd been hoping to see that.  But we saw Cabaret a few years ago and both loved it, so thought we'd go for something of that ilk, i.e. interwar showgirls in fishnets.  So, Chicago it is.

I absolutely adore Cabaret and think it's such a powerful story, with some smashing songs...

... I have my doubts as to whether Chicago will quite match it but I'm willing to give it a shot.  Has anyone else seen it?  In London or elsewhere?

Anyway, whilst we were investigating what shows were on, I had a look into some fringe theatre in addition to the main West End shows and came across quite a number of promising possibilities.  I generally only ever think to go to the theatre when I have guests in town or when it's for a special occasion but there's so much out there, that I realise that kind of mentality is just a crime.  Especially when you can find some really cheap and cheerful things in the fringe world.

So, just to give you an idea, these are some of the things I came across to get me excited...

This is set at the beginning of the 20th century (so, nice costumes, one imagines) and is based on the true tale of Addison Mizner and his brother Wilson who, according to the promotional material, were "two of the most colourful and outrageous fortune seekers in American history".  Don't know anything about them but it sounds like a lark.  Plus, it's at the Menier Chocolate Factory which I heard mention of for the first time recently.  Basically, old chocolate factory, now theatre, so I'd be intrigued to see how they've converted it because, you know, I'm into that kinda stuff.

Next up:

Set in the 1930s and first performed off-Broadway in the 1960s, Dames at Sea is a parody which tells the story of three chorous girls (one diva, one jokester and one small-town gal) and their sailor men.  The showgirls' theatre is going to be closed down so they talk the sailors' captain into letting them use his ship for their show. Need I say more?  Oh, yes, perhaps I should add that tickets are only £15.  Definitely liking these "fringe benefits" (pardon the pun).

And then:

The story needs no introduction, being one of Arthur Conan Doyle's most classic and well-known Sherlock Holmes episodes.  The quirky thing about this show is that it's performed as though for a radio play, inspired by live broadcasts of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre Company of the '30s.  So I assume the audience get to see the performers, and I hope that they're in suitable period attire!  Again, this one's only £11 (or £9 advance) at Theatro Technis.

And these plays are only the ones which were the first to catch my eye (perhaps because, you may have noticed, they're all set in the first few decades of the 20th century).  They're all on only for the next few weeks but I'm sure more careful scrutiny will definitely reveal further promising shows which should keep me going for the rest of year at least.  I'm thinking I should aim for one show a month, or perhaps one every two months is more realistic?

Is anyone else a regular theatre-goer?  I know fellow blogger Miss Katie is more than a theatre-goer, she's a performer!  If anyone ever has anything to recommend (because they've seen it or are even in it!), I'd love to hear about it.


  1. Dames at Sea sounds amazing, I have never actually seen a show at any theatre, how very uncultured I am! x

  2. I'm sure you make up for it by being cultured in other ways! But you should give it a shot sometime - it's so much more exciting than the cinema and, as the prices above show, it doesn't have to be any more expensive.

  3. Aww thanks for the little mention! Chicago is a great show, I hope you enjoy it, plus the theatre is in a great location, right near seven dials, one of my favourite places in london, surrounded by nice boutiques, cafes and cupcake shops! btw if you ever do want tickets for west end shows chances are I will know someone who's either in it or who works front of house so i can usually get really good prices for tickets, so if I can ever help you out I'd be more than happy to :)

  4. Wow! That's so amazingly nice of you to offer to help me out with theatre tickets! I might just take you up on that at some point...

  5. How how marvelously fun! While I can't claim to have very many shows under my (vintage) belt yet, a couple of years ago my husband and I became theater goers and haven't looked back. I'm sure you'll have a splendid time, too, as you catch show after engaging show.

    Many thanks, my dear, for your comment over at Chronically Vintage today, I sincerely appreciate it.

    Cheerful Monday wishes,

  6. Oh they all sound wonderful! I've been told the stage version of Chicago is wonderful so I am sure you'll not be disappointed, I've only seen the film as the Boyfriend is not keen on theatres (think it partly sitting still for more than 5 mins at a time :)) The last play I saw was the '39 Steps' which is on at the Criterion Piccadilly and it was Fabulous! Very funny!

  7. I like theatre a lot... I've seen Chicago in Pilsen where I live and it was good. But even more I've enjoyed Singing in the rain! It was fantastic...

  8. Jessica - I'm really looking forward to watching show after show, as you say. I know some won't be as good as others but I'm excited to give lots a shot. And then I'll have the fun of being able to compare them all.

    Wendy - 39 Steps was on my list of possibles but The Cat wasn't convinced by the idea. But it's good to hear you enjoyed it - makes me think I'll have to find someone else to go see it with if he won't come with me. I can imagine that I'll have to get some girlfriends on board for my theatre ambitions, as they won't all be to his taste!

    Blanka - I'd love to see Singing in the Rain! I'll have to keep an eye out for it to show in London...

  9. I saw The 39 Steps a couple of years ago and it was brilliant! So clever and funny the way they did it. I hadn't expected it to be funny either. I am so fortunate that my friend buys us seasons tickets so we go to the theatre 8 times annually. There have been some great shows - and we always have food and wine beforehand :-) It is a great plan you have to explore the theatre. I loved seeing Arcadia with you in London a couple of years ago. Very special!