Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Friend, A Palace, A Hilarious Show

Saturday the 17th was my first day trip to London. It was a very long day, waking up at 6:30am, and not going to sleep until after 2am the following day. It was also an amazing day, with three major highlights.

When I was fifteen, I left the States for the first time as part of a 10-day exchange program in Wellingborough, England. We (my high school group) performed "South Pacific," while living with host families. I befriended the star actor of their school, who played Puck for us in a performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Her name is Nadia Shash. Nadia and I became very close friends, and were pen pals for a decade. We saw each other in person twice after that, once in England, and once in the States. She became a professional actress while I planned to be a theatre teacher. I hadn't seen her for thirteen years. Until Saturday.

Nadia and I met at the London Eye, walked a bit of the South Bank, and then took the train to Hampton Palace, home of Henry VIII, William and Mary, and a number of other English monarchs. The Palace was amazing. The best part was actually the chapel, which could not be photographed. I also liked seeing Henry VIII himself. While we were there, Catherine Parr was threatened with imprisonment by Lord Wriothesley, and Henry decided she was honorable enough to be pardoned. It was an interesting show. The gardens and maze were also nice, we actually did the maze twice by accident, not realizing we were supposed to exit near the heart of the maze. I especially liked spending the day with Nadia, seeing an old friend who I hadn't seen in years.

After Hampton, I went alone back to the South Bank. I saw a play called "One Gentleman and Two Guv'nors". Nadia had recommended buying a five pound standing ticket, which I did. The show was wonderful, and absolutely hilarious. It was a retelling of Carlo Goldoni's classic Commedia dell'Arte play "The Servant of Two Masters"- one of my favorite Commedia plays. I laughed until it hurt at times, and had a wonderful time. It contained every important commedia element: improv, audience interaction, slapstick, and ridiculous comedy. Very well done. The National Theatre is also an amazing venue, with live jazz before the show, free performances outside as the show began, and a number of theatres. Took some pics on my (long) walk back to Victoria, and called it a day- a wonderful time in London.

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