Last night we had an early dinner and attended the musical Oliver. It has been running for some long time now with sold out performances. Our seats were in a good location, but like most, if not all of the theaters in London, the seats are worse the coach seats on a cheap commuter airplane because they are very close together and I cannot sit with my knees straight ahead. They had binoculars for rent that are bolted between the seats so that one knee is pressed up against the holder. It was a hot day in London and the 7:30 pm theater was humid and uncomfortable. The theater itself is very well appointed and large with box seats on the sides.
The staging for this performance was nothing short of amazing. Stages that dropped down from above with settings. Stage walls that moved sideways and openings that allowed performer's to emerge from the front area of the orchestra. The changing stage was worth going for alone.
The play is, obviously, based on Dickens's novel Oliver Twist. The cast included dozens of young boys dressed for the period. The music had a few songs that were memorable, but it was no Phantom of the Opera musical treat. The general chorus songs with the entire cast was outstanding, but the primary songs needed singers with more powerful voices especially when the orchestra continually seemed to cover their voices. The plot was weak and at times downright boring, but the second half was considerably better. However, the audience loved them and frequently clapped with enthusiasm. At the end the audience gave them long applause and even, with tongue in cheek, booed the villain.
Today, Tuesday, we got up early and took a taxi for the British Museum.The city streets are being torn up everywhere and we soon found ourselves stopped in traffic. Nothing moved for a very long time. We crawled and stopped and repeated it again. It took more then half an hour when we decided to get out and walk the remaining few blocks. The meter read twenty pounds or over thirty two dollars. Later, we decided the driver probably looked for the streets he knew would be clogged up especially since he asked us how long we had been in London ("one day") when we got in.We walked through the museum and particularly liked the Egyptian displays. There are British Columbia totem poles on display there as well.
After that we caught a cab to go to Victoria and Albert Museum. We had the same problem again of blocked traffic. This driver actually tried his best to find ways around it, without much success. We drove down the long street by the park towards the Buckingham Palace. There were large British flag banners down the entire street. It was very colorful and Buckingham always looks impressive with the fence and gold. Today at Hyde Park there was a forty one gun salute at noon followed by a sixty two gun salute at 1:00 at the Tower of London to mark the 56th anniversary of the coronation of the Queen. After half an hour of driving we were still a long ways away. Herrod's department store was near so we got out and walked to Harrods instead of going to the museum.
Harrords is Harrods. A complex maze of rows of hallways going horizontally through the huge store with each one featuring different articles. Another set running crosswise from front to back and the result is you can get lost since there are several floors of this as well. It is huge and an experience to see. I wondered through looking the price of everything which seemed to be a minimum of twice to three times what it cost in Seattle. I sat and had a cup of tea ($7.00) and checked my email on my I-Phone until I met Lita and we worked our way through the store to the exit.
We walked from there to Walton Street (mistaking it for Walton Place which is street with shops and restaurants) We thought it didn't look right, but soon found an Italian restaurant for lunch. Everyone working there was Italian and the food was very good. From there Lita walked to another area for shopping and I walked to Victoria and AlbertMuseum. It was a fifteen minute walk but it was hot and it took me a little longer. I had a good time looking at it again as this is a museum I enjoy. From there I walked another fifteen minutes to the Natural History Museum which is huge. I didn't spend much time there having spent time there in the past. Another fifteen minute walk put me at the Science Museum which is my favorite London museum. I walked all four floors front to back marveling at the ships and planes as well as all the many things on exhibit here. A very good experience.
From there I caught a cab and without any real problem made it back to the hotel where I met Lita. Tonight we are going to dinner and getting to bed early, No stage shows as we leave for home tomorrow.