Saturday, March 13, 2010

London Trip March 2010 -- Day 10

Union flagWe enjoyed the short train trip to Kingston upon Thames via Wimbledon. The city's official name is The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. Kingston is where the Saxon kings were crowned and one of its historic attractions is the Coronation Stone.

Kingston is a charming city with lots of historic sites along with plenty of shops and restaurants. You can sit and watch the Thames as it flows behind the theatre but it is tiny compared to the width of the river in London proper. Because the river narrows here it was, until 1729, the first place a bridge could cross the Thames upstream of the London Bridge. There is still a bridge on that site. The day was chilly and gray but Kingston must be lovely on a warm summer afternoon.

We had lunch at a Gourmet Burger Kitchen half a block from the Rose Theatre where we were about to see Judi Dench as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Program book cover
Dame Judi Dench at the Rose Theatre

Titania with Bottom

Think it's worth a transatlantic trip to see Dame Judi Dench, live and in person, and speaking Shakespeare's verse? I'd say yes.

Last fall, I read on one of the London theatre blogs that Dame Judi would be playing Titania in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Rose Theatre in Kingston on Thames, suburban London. Lo and behold, that meshed perfectly with the trip we were planning. After some emails to the most-friendly Rose box office, we found that tickets would go on sale to the public (they have a big subscription base) on line on a Monday morning -- middle of the night Pensacola time. We did what was required and ordered the tickets. Less than a week later, we had them in hand.

Titania is, of course, not the largest role in the "Dream." But Dame Judi makes you think it is. We had seen her before live in contemporary drama but never in Shakespeare. What a privilege. She speaks the verse like no other actor I have ever seen. Unforgettable.

She and her director, Sir Peter Hall, agreed to this limited engagement at the two-year old Rose in Kingston to help the theatre survive -- bless them. It was a sell-out engagement and, according to our London friends, the hottest ticket in town.

A memorable theatrical finale to our trip. We won't soon forget any part of our afternoon in Kingston.

Top: Sir Peter Hall, Dame Judi Dench
Bottom: Rose Theatre Kingston

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