When the weather turns brisk after a wet and none-too-warm summer we Brits well know that now is the time to enjoy London. The winter is too cold and miserable and the summer is generally blighted by hordes of tourists. But the Spring and Autumn are the highlights of the year with the best cultural events and reasonable weather to enjoy them. This Autumn there is heaps to do with theatre a particular highlight.
Recommended London theatre
Right now there are a number of particularly good productions on stage in London. Whether you are interested in musicals or serious theatre there are in excess of 75 plays in production. However, as I know that many visitors in London are after a jolly show I have profiled three musicals below as well as a serious piece theatre which promises to be one of the most talked-about productions of the decade.
The 39 Steps has just past its second birthday at the Criterion and has just announced that its run has been extended yet again. The play is adapted from the novel by nineteenth century novelist John Buchan and the 1935 film of the book by Alfred Hitchcock. The play is a comedic spoof-thriller about Richard Hannay a London gentleman who is drawn into a foreign plot and ends up on the run himself after a woman is found murdered in his flat. I saw the original London show at the Tricycle before it opened at the Criterion and it is heartily recommended. The production won "Best New Comedy" at the Olivier Awards in 2006. A Broadway spin-off won two Tony Awards this year.
Grease. London revival of the 1972 Broadway hit immortalised by Olivia Newton John and John Travolta in the 1978 film. This 2007 revival has been much acclaimed by critics and audiences. It is full of life and energy and will leave you singing the songs and feeling great.
The Donmar Warehouse is known in London for its confronting dramas. It is an intimate theatre around a horseshoe stage with only three rows so you can feel the actor's effort and sweat throughout. The theatre attracts major stars returning to the stage for intellectual refreshment. In its latest production Shakespeare veteran Kenneth Branagh has cast Hollywood heart-throb Jude Law as Hamlet. Will Law succeed in such a cramped domain? Many stars have returned to the stage in London to sold-out runs but critical panning. I think Law is cut above the rest and will enhance his reputation in this performance which is certain to be one of the most talked-about shows of the year.
The Phantom is back. Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic romance has been revived at Her Majesty's theatre. For those who remember the London launch of the musical in the 1980s, relive the magic.
After the show catch a late supper at Gaucho Piccadilly. Gaucho is a chain of Argentinean restaurants which are recognised as having the best steaks in London. Try an Argentinean merlot with your steak; it should have much more spice and body than the typically soft European and Californian versions of the grape.
Getting to the theatre district is easy. On the Central Line you have stations at Holborn, Tottenham Court Road or Oxford Circus. On the Piccadilly Line Leicester Square, Covent Garden and Holborn (again) may all be helpful. In addition there are plenty of buses from all over London.