A Tale of Two Plays and A Lesson in Stage Door Etiquette

Easter weekend saw a trip to London that I had planned for weeks – I had booked to see two star-studded plays and coupled with the long weekend, what more could a girl want?

First up was Peter and Alice, a new play by John Logan starring Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw; it tells the story of when Alice Liddell Hargreaves met Peter Llewelyn Davies – the inspirations for Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan come face to face and it is through this brief encounter that their lives are explored and laid bare.

The play is part of the Michael Grandage season in the West End – a series of plays with high profile actors, aimed at bringing more members of the public back into theatre at affordable prices. The play is a solid 90 minutes with no interval and Whishaw and Dench are on stage pretty much from the start and don’t leave until the end. Peter and Alice explores issues surrounding life and death, growing up and the contrast to experiencing the world through a child’s eyes and then looking back on it with an adult perspective. It’s an intense emotional rollercoaster, and I can only imagine how exhausting it is for the 6/7 actors in the company performing it (particularly Dench and Whishaw), as I felt exhausted just watching the play. It’s also quite a thought-provoking play as Alice and Peter explore their lives from childhood up until the present day, experiencing some memories in a new light. It’s definitely a play that thinks outside the box, with the present and the past overlapping, and at times this made it hard to keep up with the play.

Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw as the two leads are incredible – both manage to emotionally provoke the audience and maintain their stamina throughout the 90-minute performance. At one point Peter comes up with a great theory regarding the lost boys and why they never grow up – he says it’s because they die. This theory certainly sticks with you and you leave the theatre feeling as if you’ve been hit with a freighter train of emotion. It’s a brilliant new play, and made even better by the two leads. The play runs until the beginning of June, and although it is sold out, there are cheap tickets for sale on the day of the performance, so if you’re visiting London this month, I strongly urge you to give this play a try.

The next night I was treated to a more classical play – William Shakespeare’s Macbeth starring Scotland’s own James McAvoy as the lead role. The play was located in quite a small theatre which has been recently renovated. The space was great, slightly in the round with approximately 80 seats actually placed on the stage. Overall, the theatre only sat around 200-300 people which made the play even more intimate and personal.

The production itself was particularly physical, it felt like McAvoy never stopped moving around the stage, and it added to the madness of the character. It was also set in a Dystopian, near future with combat costumes and minimal lighting and had some great fight scenes. McAvoy in the lead was fantastic and convincing as a man desperate to survive –he also had great chemistry with Clare Foy who played Lady Macbeth. Unfortunately, the play ended at the end of last month but I’m sure it won’t be long until McAvoy comes back into theatre and when he does, be sure to go see him – he’s a fantastic British talent and his blue eyes are mesmerizing.

After both plays I was lucky enough to meet Ben Whishaw, Judi Dench and James McAvoy at the stage doors. Now I love meeting actors at the stage doors after seeing musicals and plays, to show my appreciation for the actors on stage. I’ve done many a stage door so, as a side note to this post, here is my helpful tips with meeting some of your favourite actors and some stage door etiquette:

  1. Be patient – at times it can take up to around 20 minutes for them to get out of make-up and get all their stuff together to leave. Other times actors have friends/relatives visiting so it takes longer – don’t be disheartened (and keep warm).
  2. Make friends – nothing wrong with a bit of a chat to other fans/theatre-goers.
  3. Don’t surge – it is a major pet hate of mine. If you’re stood in an orderly fashion and an actor comes out, suddenly everyone forgets the personal space rule. Actors are real people too! Again, be patient – their much more likely to be appreciative of this.
  4. Be prepared – it’s a 50/50 chance that an actor will carry a pen with them. If you haven’t got one then this is where tip no. 2 comes in handy!
  5. Finally, charge the batteries in your camera – and smile!

Comment below if you have any stage door tips or suggestions of what to see theatre wise in London.