(sort of continued from my last post)

I’ve been back from London for weeks now, so I think it’s time I wrap up my wrap up of my short time there.  Soon.

Rainbow spouting from St Paul's Cathedral. This happened. For real.


If you didn’t know, there’s an astounding amount of theatre going on at all times in London.  And it’s not even that hard to find.  First stop: the Soho theatre.  I love this theatre.  I do.  Their literary department sent me the most lovely, respectful, encouraging rejection letter I’ve ever received.  And their stationery is damn cool.  So I got a ticket to whatever show was playing that afternoon.  The girl at the box office hadn’t seen the production but told me that there was real grass on stage.  Sold!

The Soho theatre looks slightly depressing on this picture but actually looks pretty neat in real life

Real grass on stage is awesome.  It looks nice and smells like spring. But it doesn’t necessarily make for dynamic, interesting, moving, or logical theatre.  The grass was really cool, but the play made me angry and offended because of its lack of content and point.  And sad at the potential in the staging, what with the good (but embarrassed) actors and real grass.  I’m going to give this theatre another shot next time I’m in town because I can tell that this bad experience was a fluke.  I can just tell.  Because they’re so nice and actually read scripts you send them.  The one they picked this time was a total miss, that’s all. (The play in question is no longer running- so you’re safe to go check out whatever it on now!)

Collaborative street art in London

Luckily, I had another show booked that night which I liked much, much, much better. After grabbing my backpack at my friend’s (I’d been switching couches, air mattresses, and beds all week), I proceeded to get quite lost in Dalston looking for the Arcola Theatre.

Something I learned in London: the A to Z may be indispensable, but make sure you have a recent edition.  Sometimes things like theatres move.  And overground lines get built.  I was lost for a long time, lugging my pack around dark alleys looking for the Arcola Theatre on Arcola Street.  It moved last year. Check their website, Elise, geez.  Thank goodness for friends with extra mobile phones who lend you said phone in case of stupid situations such as these.  Thanks, Emily!

When I found the Arcola behind a construction site mere steps from where my adventure had begun, we were treated to an intense, beautifully staged production of Speechless, a play based on a real case of selectively mute twins. 

A Shared Experience production, Speechless is co-written by Polly Teale and Linda Brogan.  The reason I had to see it (at full price, bought in advance- that’s commitment) was that Polly Teale also wrote Mrs Rochester, a play I have only had the chance to read (mouth agape the whole time at its intelligence, risk, passion, anger, and skill).  Through that play, I was introduced to Jean Rhys and her outstanding novel Wide Sargasso Sea– a novel you should read right this second.  So I had to see what else I could learn, what journey I could be taken on.

Speechless felt a bit like a roller coaster ride.  It was: laugh, cringe, weep, and feel extraordinarily uncomfortable while at the same time wanting to jump on stage and give the characters (all of them) a hug (and then maybe running away).  The performances were spot-on.  It’s the kind of piece I wish I could have been part of.  As an audience member, I learned so much and made me want to know more about the twins, their lives, London, immigration, psychology, education, and the Royal Wedding.  I can only imagine what it must have been like to sit in on those rehearsals.

After such an intense night and waiting for the bus in the rain, we went for plates of very white chips at Fishcotheque. As one does.

Up next: the final chapter of my week in London (promise)