It’s not everyday you see a forest made out of desks and chairs- Let me explain.
Today, January the 9th, was a very special day. One of my good friends who graduated from Fordham this past spring, Ricky, is on a Fulbright in Germany and was visiting London while exploring grad school options. That of course meant we had to meet up, and did we ever!
The day started out at the Imperial War Museum on Lambeth Road in the South Bank. Although we were only there for a few hours and mostly catching up on each other’s recent histories rather than Britain’s war expenditures, this museum was amazing. It has interactive exhibits and tons of unique artifacts all while reminding its visitors of the severity of war. I’ll be sure to back when I have more time!
From the museum we headed on a quick bus ride to the National Theater. Unfortunately, we ended up the 159 instead of the 59, but it actually worked out rather well! We got off right before we crossed over the bridge to Big Ben, and then walked along the Thames to the National Theater, which is right next to the Waterloo Bridge. It was a beautiful walk and fortunately not raining (just yet).
The play that we saw was a matinee performance of William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”. I had seen other productions of this show and read it a few times, so I was familiar with the plot, but the National’s staging blew. my. MIND. It began with actors already onstage on relatively dismal, small set dressed like an office complete with tacky 80’s color-block carpeting.
The play began and it immediately drew me in, a highlight of the first act being the big wrestling scene. Very comical, and very fast paced. The big wow factor came though at the end of the first act (not intermission first act, but the first act in the Shakespearian text). The set change that happened over the next 30 seconds was like nothing I had ever experienced before. All of the tables and chairs on the set are connected by wires and were lifted to the ceiling to create trees and the carpet pulled back to reveal a gravel stage, thus increasing the stage space and grandeur 10 fold. Post it notes became both the love-lorn Orlando’s scribbles to his Rosalind and the leaves from the trees. This new set formed the Forest of Arden, and it was absolutely brilliant.
A fairly big change, huh?
You can’t really tell the beauty of the lighting, but I assure you, the whole thing was beautiful. Even better, the actors in the show were second to none- Rosalind was the stand out, even the whole ensemble was brilliant.They were suspended amongst the tress and provided the sounds for rain, crackling fire, and howling wolves just to name a few, or even played very convincing (and adorable) sheep. If you want to see good and cheap theatre while in London, GO TO THE NATIONAL!! A student pass ticket in the stalls, the equivalent of a US orchestra section, was £5 for the pass holder and £7.50 for a friend! I honestly would have paid full price for this in a heartbeat though, and am eager to return and see more!
Much to my sadness, the show did of course have to come to an end, so Ricky and I walked across the Waterloo bridge back to the North Bank. We toured through Covent Garden (where I found a Disney Store), Leicester Square, and China Town until we needed to find some shelter from the rain! This took the form of dinner at Benito’s Hat, a burrito chain, on New Row in Covent Garden. My meal, a yummy chicken burrito with guac, a tiny side of fries, and can of diet coke was only £7.50, another blessing to my wallet. Cheap food is out there, you just have to look and avoid tourist spots!
The night ended by returning back to my flat to just chat and catch up over a few Cadbury treats before Ricky had to head back to his lodgings. I’m beginning to realize that the Tube closing at midnight is a large inconvenience than I thought I would be, so I am going to be looking more into how the Night Bus system operates.
Overall, today was absolutely amazing because I got to catch up with an amazing friend while enjoying something that we both love. I can’t wait to visit him in Bamberg later on this semester and explore Germany a bit!