The simple answer is yes.
While in London I’ve never a) seen so many plays and b) never seen so many amazing plays, just in general.
Of course, I’ve seen well done performances in America, but I’ve also seen some horribly done ones as well. However, in London, I’ve only seen one play I didn’t like, and I’ve been to a performance a week at least. In that past month and a half, I’ve probably seen around twenty productions (and the one that wasn’t good had an amazing set and fabulous costumes – so it wasn’t even horrible).
Obviously I was expecting high-caliber performances because London is the New York City of Europe, and Shakespeare lived in Stratford-upon-Avon and London, but I have been blown away by the quantity and quality of theater in this city. After walking down the street in any direction for ten minutes, I know I’ll probably pass a theatre in Central Londo. The Tube is packed with fliers for everything, from Betty Blue Eyes to As You Like It to The Lion King. London has it all.
Another aspect of theater in London that surprised me was the attendance. Fine arts in London is not just for the wealthy or the elderly. I’ll see teenagers dressed in jeans or dresses at a performance on a Wednesday night – and not just to see the major productions, but to see the small ones as well. Maybe it’s because theater is so accessible and affordable, but it appears that it’s basically integrated into the Londoner’s life to appreciate theater and art.
Another thing that surprised me was how common it is for movie and television stars to go back to the stage. Keira Knightley, Elisabeth Moss, Ellen Burtsyn and Lisa Backwell from the UK television program Skins all preformed in The Children’s Hour and Harry Melling, better known as Dudley Dursley from the Harry Potter films, was in School for Scandal at the Barbican. Not only was I shocked to see these well-known actors perform live, but I also was able to meet or get a brief glimpse of them as they walked past me to hurry into a cab.
Though the theater in London is absolutely spectacular, if I had to recommend any performances I’d definitely say go to Shakespeare’s Globe. Though the building is just a reproduction of the original Globe, it was constructed to be as close to identical as possible. And if you go to the globe, don’t pay for actual seats. It’s only £5 for a yard ticket, which, if you’re a Shakespeare fan, you should be geeking out over. For those not familiar, the Globe had a yard surrounding the stage where common people would stand to watch the performance, and by standing in the yard at Shakespeare’s Globe, you are as close to experiencing an authentic Shakespeare performance as possible. Plus, the yard tickets are right against the stage, with no barriers, so you can end up with the best seat in the house if you get there early enough.