London Theatre/Jack the Ripper, etc.

Nov 22nd, 2002, 10:58 AM
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London Theatre/Jack the Ripper, etc.

I'll have a free Sunday and Monday in London in early December (my first time there!). I would love to see a play that Monday night, and "The Woman in Black" looks interesting. My first choice, "Uncle Vanya" is sold out.
Has anyone seen "The Woman in Black?" Would it be a good London theatre experience? Is it best to order tickets before my trip, and if so, would you suggest a website?
And has anyone ever taken a ghost or Jack the Ripper London tour? Was it fun?
I'm thinking of spending Sunday in Notting Hill and Monday traipsing through London to see the Tower, changing of the guard, Parliament, etc,(the the play in the evening).
Suggestions and comments would be very much appreciated.
PS - Someone told me about underground WWII war rooms?
Nov 22nd, 2002, 11:39 AM
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Go to

Make sure your walk has the expert Donald Rumbelow. They try to move as many as possible with others. Also, there are competing walks.

You can always tell which walk has Donald. There are 10 times the number of people.

It was a lot of fun.
Nov 22nd, 2002, 11:52 AM
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Will you be alone? Are you a scaredy cat? If not, The Woman in Black is great.
Nov 22nd, 2002, 12:04 PM
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Something about that whole Donald R. mystique. When we took the walk we actually got hijacked by one of the "fake" leaders, who show up at the Tower Station 15 minutes earlier. We had Tony, who is a BeefEater by day and was incredibly interesting. I don't think there were more than 15 people on our walk (which I think was essential to enhance the experience) and there was lots of opportunity to ask one on one questions. Tony had an interesting theory about Jack, and while he told us about all the other theories, I thought his take was pretty good.

Also, before you go see the movie with Johnnie Depp. It's gruesome but I liked it.
Nov 22nd, 2002, 12:46 PM
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I've been a Jack the Ripper "fan" all my life through books and movies. My daughter and I did the tour a few years ago, although I'm not sure which one it was. Some may say it's a rip-off, but we enjoyed it; it's a must for anyone who has a little bit of the ghoul in them.

Nov 22nd, 2002, 01:03 PM
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We saw The Woman in Black last winter. I thought that it was not bad, but my husband and kids thought that it was terrible! It was a bit creaky and stale, but I love theater and will sit through anything!

As for tickets, just call the box office and order them yourself. The web sites and ticket agencies will charge you a fee. I use the theater websites to find out what is playing, check reviews and get seating charts, then I call the theaters myself. That way I can pick my own seats and save money in the process. The theaters will either send the tickets to you, or some hold them at the box office for you. I have done this for the past 3 years (we have visited London each year for theater) and never have had a problem. The theater is wonderful.

We all enjoyed the Cabinet War Rooms, we never bothered with the changing of the guard because the times are limited and it never comfortably fit into our schedule.
Nov 22nd, 2002, 01:05 PM
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Unfortunately the Donald Rumbelow walks have outgrown the concept. Having 100-200+ people traipsing through east London defeats the whole thing. He is wonderful - but take one of the other walks unless you want to be in an Army of other tourists.

The Woman in Black is good, scary fun and is almost always available at the Leicester Sq. 1/2 price TKTS booth. I have checked over a hundred times over the last 4 years and only twice was W in B unavailable.
Nov 22nd, 2002, 01:20 PM
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If you're going a Jack the Ripper tour, read about Patricia's Cornwell's conclusion what he was actually artist Walter Sickert.

"Jack the Ripper" is a somewhat-glamorized name for a man with an extreme amount of anger who viciously mutilated the women he killed.
Nov 22nd, 2002, 01:48 PM
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Patricia Cornwell's theory is the biggest load of nonsense I have ever heard. AND she spent $6million trying to prove it- and she STILL didn't..
The Ripper tour is fun - my guide was Donald R. and he was excellent.. but the numbers on the tour were a little ridiculous..
Nov 22nd, 2002, 01:52 PM
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Have to beg to differ. Cornwell's theory is spot-on.
Nov 22nd, 2002, 02:48 PM
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To answer your last question, I visited the Cabinet War Rooms when I was in London in August, and I thought they were fascinating. One word of warning: don't go if you're the tiniest bit claustrophobic. If you do go, be sure to get the audioguide. You can read more about them at
Nov 22nd, 2002, 06:01 PM
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Hi Terry,
I've just returned from a wonderful week in London. I don't know anything about "The Woman in Black" but I can highly recommend "Mrs. Warren's Profession" starring Brenda Blethyn. I basically chose this play because she is one of my favorite British actresses. The play was wonderful. I got my ticket ahead of time through Ticketmaster online and just had the ticket held there at the theater box office (one less thing to have to keep up with while travelling). As for the "Jack the Ripper" walk, do go and make sure you have Donald Rumbelow as your guide. It's true he draws a large crowd but he organizes everyone around him so that he's clearly seen and heard. He certainly is the most knowledgeable on the subject. It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. By the way, Mr. Rumbelow will be appearing on BBC sometime in Nov. or Dec. to challenge Patricia Cornwell's theory on the "real Jack". I visited the War Rooms 2 years ago with my Father and found it very interesting. Enjoy your trip!
Nov 23rd, 2002, 03:43 AM
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"The Woman in Black" is, in my opinion, one of the best long-running plays. Two actors (+ the woman in black), with very few props, manage to convey the scariest atmosphere you can imagine. Very dark and gothic.

So if it's colourful scenery and and snazzy costumes you're after, this is not your show.
Nov 23rd, 2002, 11:46 AM
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There is an excerpt of the Sickert theory in this month's Vanity Fair magazine, very interesting.
Nov 24th, 2002, 06:17 PM
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It's Terry again... Thank you all for replies to my post - you've been SO helpful!
I will be by myself (there on business and added 2 days for myself) and do have a bit of the ghoul in me so I'm unlikely to be TOO scared - so I have it down to "The Woman in Black" and "Mrs. Warren's Profession"- I think Brenda Blethyn is a brilliant actress and I didn't know she was in it!
I will definitely check out the War Rooms and probably include Jack the Ripper, although I'm thinking if I do "The Woman in Black," doing the Jack tour may cross the border between amusing eccentric and a little too much masochism
Thanks for your best wishes...I'll have a great time and can't wait to go!
(And keep the suggestions coming!)
Nov 24th, 2002, 06:24 PM
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I love London theatre, but "The Women in Black" was definitely NOT one I enjoyed or care to see again. That is just my opinion - I know many others enjoyed it -- I just don't happen to be one of them.
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