There are many things that we Londoners take for granted and I sometimes do wonder, when I look around at a theatre scene that positively throbs with vibrancy, if we’re not the luckiest souls on the planet?
Certainly within the UK, no other city comes close to offering such a mind-blowing variety of theatrical entertainment. Whether you want an evening that edifies the soul, or one that makes you roll around in the aisles laughing, London will have something playing to satisfy everyone’s desire.
One of the greatest theatrical institutions in the capital is the National Theatre, and as it receives a State subsidy from the Arts Council of England, the top price ticket for most performances hovers around £48, which whilst not ‘cheap’ is certainly more affordable than the top whack you’ll pay in the West End, which can climb to the giddy heights of £100 per ticket. “Hurrah for State subsidy,” – that’s what I say! But that’s not all, as Travelex are on board as a sponsor. So for every performance in the Olivier Theatre (there are three – the Olivier, Cottesloe and Lyttleton) there are 500 tickets up for grabs for only £12 each, which is about what you pay to see a film in London, so that’s fantastic value for money by anyone’s reckoning.
It helps that the programme coming up (and booking is now open) is mouth-watering. Previewing from 28 August is a new staging of Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II. Don’t worry it’s not a sequel, but a play about an English monarch who reigned between 1284 and 1327 and although he was married to Queen Isabella, was apparently very fond of a bit of man-on-man action…
In Marlowe’s play (published posthumously in 1594) on being crowned, Edward II recalls his lover, Piers Gaveston, from exile, lavishing on him titles and riches, but their all-consuming lust makes enemies of the furious barons, alienates the Queen and tears England to pieces. Ultimately the monarch himself is destroyed as are many of those who stood both at his side and in his way.
Directed by Joe Hill Gibbins and starring John Heffernan as Edward II, and Kyle Soller as Gavaston, we’re promised a behind-the-scenes exploration of power, sexual obsession, and a king who treats the realm as his playground in a contemporary take on Marlowe’s magnificent, erotic and violent play.
Further down the line (previews from 25 September) comes a brand new musical entitled The Light Princess, which brings together iconic singer-songwriter Tori Amos with playwright Samuel Anderson and director Marianne Elliott in what promises to be a spectacular coming of age story told within the framework of a dark fairytale about grief, rebellion and the power of love. I, for one, can’t wait. Booking for both the above shows is now open.