Thursday, February 13, 2014

Days 158-161 Part 2: London and Back Again

If you had told me a week ago that I'd spend 27 hours on a bus, 20 hours queuing, and around £70 in order to see Tom Hiddleston and Mark Gatiss in Coriolanus, I wouldn't have believed you. Had I known how much trouble it was going to be before I set out, I probably wouldn't have gone. 

But I did go. And now, after seeing the wonderfulness that is Coriolanus, it was 100% worth it.

The plan was pretty straightforward. Take the bus down to London on Thursday, stay with a friend of a friend, queue Friday for Coriolanus tickets and then try to get Henry V tickets (staring Jude Law) on Saturday.

Sadly, Friday was an utter failure. Despite waking up at 5:00 am and arriving at the theatre at 6:00, there were still nearly forty people in front of me. I should have just gone straight to Henry V to queue there (it has a longer run, so it's easier to get tickets) but instead I decided to stick it out for Coriolanus. 

At 10:00, the box office opened and the line started moving... and kept moving... and we (myself and two American exchange students I met in the queue) actually started to have hope that we'd get tickets. But no such luck. When I was just 8th in line, they ran out of day seats and standing tickets.

So we joined the line for returns. This was nicer because it was inside, so I actually managed to get some stuff done (reading for class, memorizing lines for a play, writing blog posts about Europe). However, we waited all day but no returns came in until 6:30. They kept trickling in slowly up until the show started... and when the performance began I was third in line. So. Close.

I went back to the flat rather dejected and drank a cup of much needed tea before heading off to bed around 11.  I resolved to wake up at 2am... but my internal clock actually woke me up at 1:30. So I got up (amid severe doubts of 'is this really worth it?) got dressed, ran to the bus stop (the tube doesn't run that late/early) and got to the Donmar Warehouse by 2:20, where I found myself about 25th in line.

It was a hopeful position. On Friday 30 people had gotten tickets, and there had only been one show. There were two shows on Saturday, and fewer people in front of me. I was fairly certain of getting a ticket, assuming that everyone in front of me didn't buy two.

I waited in that queue for eight hours. In the cold. And the wet. I wore four jumpers and was still cold. When it rained, I shared an umbrella with an American exchange student who was right behind me in the queue. She was a theatre major, so having her to chat to made the time go by much quicker.

The Saturday queue (the box office is by the little red sideways sign on
the building on the right side of the pic; the end of the line stretched a fair
ways off the left side of the photo...)
At ten the queue started moving. Soooooo slooooowly. The line behind me stretched the length of the block. I tried to take comfort from the fact that if so many people were waiting behind me, there must be hope for me... but I started to be convinced that I wouldn't get a ticket, that I'd have to sit in the returns line again, or else go back disappointed.

But. BUT. I did eventually make it to the ticket window. And not only were there places left, but there were actual physical seats (not just standing places) left for the matinee. So I bought one. And I jumped and squealed and nearly cried. I just couldn't believe that all that waiting had actually paid off.

I went back to the flat, had a quick nap, showered, and headed back in for the matinee. Thankfully, despite having just two hours of sleep that night, excitement kept me wide awake. After all that trouble, I was going to enjoy that show.

And I did. So much. I'm pretty safe to say it's my favourite of all performances I've seen. It was funny, and tragic, and classic, and modern, and inventive, and so ridiculously well acted. I won't say any more now, bc this post is long enough already, but I'll blog in detail about the show tomorrow. 

I left the theatre so high on the show. It had completely emptied me, in a way, like any great tragedy should. I was so enthralled by the show that I couldn't focus on anything else.

Except for then I could, because that's when Andrew Scott showed up, making my fantastic day better than I ever imagined.

Sadly, the epic tale of Rachel's trip to London has a slightly depressing end. I had planned to take the overnight bus up front London and arrive back in St. Andrews in time for church on Sunday morning, but unfortunately, the bus had other plans. When we had just passed Carlyle (northwest England, right by the border of Scotland), the bus got a flat tire. So we sat there. For nearly two hours. Finally a replacement bus rescued us an took us to Glasgow where we were hastily allocated to different buses. After another transfer, I finally arrived back in St. Andrews early Sunday afternoon. Total journey time: 13.5 hours.

It was a crazy weekend, with more travel and less sleep than I've ever had (I think...) Tomorrow, I shall describe the play that made it all worthwhile...

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