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"British" play recommendation - for teenagers


"British" play recommendation - for teenagers

Old Apr 6th, 2011, 09:58 AM
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"British" play recommendation - for teenagers

Hello Fodorites!
I've read most of the posts around theatre but am not finding exactly what I need. My family, including two older teenage sons, will be in London June 9 & 10 (2011) and I would love to take them to the theatre in the evening (they are too young to go club hopping...or I am too old!).

I'd like to take them to a non-broadway, 'british' play if possible. With over 200 plays available I'm having trouble finding something appropriate. Any suggestions? worst case I can go to Les Miz as it is always a good show but I'm hoping to find something more 'british' if that makes sense?

Looking forward to hearing suggestions from the experts!
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 10:36 AM
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refer to this website, it not only gives the listing of all plays/theatre in London, it also gives you good deals

I wanted to go to Lion King or Wizard of Oz last time i was in London, however missed it due to excess of work! lol

Have fun!
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 11:05 AM
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I would NOT take them to Les Miserables. First, it's depressing. Second, it is frighteningly dull. I saw it when I was a teen and could not wait for the end -- it is a melodramatic tragedy in near-operatic form because there is almost no dialogue that is not sung. Your teenage sons will be bored stiff.

What's a "non-broadway british play"? TheatRE productions in London very frequently become theatER productions in New York. Shrek, Billy Elliot, Wicked, Les Mis, Legally Blonde, Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, Chicago and more all started in the West End or London theatres before going to NYC. So British plays become Broadway plays at a high rate.

If you want something profoundly British and reputedly very good, take them to see The 39 Steps.

If you want them entertained, then Billy Elliot would work.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 11:20 AM
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I second The 39 Steps. It's great fun.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 11:21 AM
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Do you want a play or a musical? The recommendations above are for musicals. I saw Billy Elliot and Wicked last summer, and both were great (though Wicked was my favorite).

If you want a play, check out the Globe Theater for their schedule. I really loved the night I spent at the Globe.

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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 11:27 AM
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If you want "British" theatre please don't limit your review to American musicals. There is outstanding theater of all types throughout central London. A great guide to what's on (and museums, restaurants and other entertainment too all with a "hipper" slant) is www.timeout.com (London version) with listings by date or area.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 11:34 AM
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Could you tell us the ages of the "older teenagers" as to me that would mean 18-19 yr olds whose interests would be more adult than younger teenagers
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 11:53 AM
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Look up War Horse. we loved the acting , the script and the astaging is fantastic. The featured actor plays a teenager
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 12:03 PM
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thank you everyone. Great feedback so far. By 'non-broadway' I mean something I can't see on broadway, like all the big musicals (Wicked, billy elliot, etc). I'm looking for something that is very English. Perhaps 39 steps? It doesn't have to be a musical - but I would prefer a comedy.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 12:21 PM
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Though I totally disagree with BigRuss about Les Mis (one of my all-time favorites!), I agree that 39 Steps is really entertaining. And it's quite "British" enough for you, I think. War Horse is supposed to be wonderful but I haven't seen it myself.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 12:34 PM
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both war horse and 39 steps look great! thanks everyone and I love both the time out and last minute sites - great info!
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 01:54 PM
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My 14-year-old loved "Billy Elliot" last summer, even though it had toured in our city, we hadn't seen it and personally I would prefer to see it with a British cast.
We will be in London again this summer and will seriously consider "War Horse," which is being made into a film under the aegis, I think of Stephen Spielberg. If we see it I know my daughter will love to tell her friends that she saw the play in London! 39 steps sounds intriguing also. Have fun.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 02:06 PM
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We saw Billy Elliot in London with a "British" cast. The Billy that night (they rotate three due to labor laws and the strain on the kids) was Tanner Pflueger.

He's from Nebraska.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 03:02 PM
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Mousetrap? The longest running show in history, Agatha Christie, very British.

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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 03:03 PM
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I saw The 39 Steps a few weeks back (half price ticket from Leicester Square) - very entertaining and would have been enjoyed by my teenager.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 03:34 PM
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The Woman in Black has been running for years. It definitely meets the "British" criterion and has lots of genuinely scary moments which is really difficult to achieve on stage with none of the tricks available to filmakers. I guarantee you will jump out of your seat on several occasions.

I realise that ghost stories are not to everyone's tsate but if you and your teenagers do like this sort of thing then I can also recommend the aptly named "Ghost Stories." It's written by and stars Andy Nyman who produced the Derren Brown shows. It also has some real "jump out of your skin" moments.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 05:30 PM
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Blood Brothers is very English. It's another that has been running for ages. Musical and not funny, but we really liked it.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 06:05 PM
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I would recommend War Hourse or if you just want a laugh, The 39 Steps. If you go to the former, I recommend watching the Alfred Hitchcock movie first as it's easier to understand the jokes IMHO.

As for Blood Brothers, it's not a play to go to if you are feeling depressed. Very dark and the mother is a fantastic singer but I wasn't wowed by it.

I'd also check to see what else is playing at the National besides War Horse
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 11:02 PM
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There are three reasons you're getting such a tired list of tourist-oriented cliches.

1. You posted at 7 pm (our time), after everyone had knocked off for the night.
2. Most British plays really don't appeal to tourists, of any sort. Browse through the lists at www.timeout.com and at any one moment, about 90% of British plays on in London are too new, demanding, mediocre, political or rude (or often all five at once) for visitors: even the most stage-struck
3. The business model for most London theatre means no-one's seen what you're probably really looking for.

There are three business models for straight plays in London. Remember, of course, that the endless mantra on this site ("go to the TKTS kiosk") limits you to plays no-one wants to see, or to plays deliberately booked into big theatres so that they can sell tickets via TKTS to undiscriminating tourists.

a. Tourist-centred, commercially operated, artistic mediocrities. Practically everything listed above. 39 Steps is a kind of exception, but you really need to read the reviews. This is more of a play about how stuffy Edwardians were (about as inaccurate a modern delusion as it's possible to invent) and how clever the actors are than a retelling of a classic novel.

b. Often outstanding productions at the main subsidised theatres. These typically have three month runs in repertory: most of what'll be on in June's not on now, so 99% of recommendations today are irrelevant to you. You either have to decide in advance blind from the theatres' website, or make a shortlist before you travel and buy what there are still tickets for when you arrive. For critical successes - the plays that'll be on Broadway in a year or so - there's a window of at most a week between first night (or rather, the next day's rave reviews) and the whole run selling out. If you can identify plays during this window, they're likely to be what you really want.
They are most likely to be at:
- The National
- The Royal Court
- The Almeida
- The Old Vic
- The Donmar Warehouse
- The Menier Chocolate Factory
- The Hampstead Theatre (Royal Shakespeare Co)
Though there may be something extraordinary at one of a couple of hundred pubs, most of us find the play everyone else has seen and we can't get tickets for is most often at one of these seven.

c. Commercially-produced high quality, ungimmicky, straight plays. At most theatres (like the Vaudeville in the Strand) these are all three-month runs, so no-one will yet have seen what's on in June. 39 Steps is one exception, but a far better one is Pygmalion at the Garrick in Charing Cross Rd. A classic English (well, some might say Irish, of course) play, played straight and well, and with just one legitimate, but still eye-catching, gimmick: Diana Rigg, who played Eliza Dolittle back when we all had unprintable fantasies about her after her Avengers role, now plays Henry Higgins' mother.

For this third group, probably best to browse the theatre section of www.timeout.com - THEN BOOK ONLINE. I say again: little worthwhile, especially in a peak season like June when most Londoners haven't decamped to the Dordogne, makes it to TKTS.

There is a fourth group: interestingly tweaked Shakespeare. Most famously, the Globe and Regents Park Open Air Theatre, though it's not totally exhausting to get a train to Stratford in time for an evening at the Royal Shakespeare Company's new theatre and get back by shortly after midnight.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 11:50 PM
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My short answer:

I AM British, and War Horse and The 39 Steps are exactty what I recommended last month to visiting Canadian friends with a 17-year-old son.

Rufus Wright, who plays the lead in The 39 Steps, is brilliant.
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