Friday, August 27, 2010

Ye Olde Englande, Week 6: A Lot of "Agony"

Time yet again for my weekly installment.  Last week was cloudy and grey nearly every day, which will prove to be significant in the details that follow.  It's a long story, but I think it's funny (in its way), so here goes!

Ever since we lived near Regent's Park, I had been really excited to see Into the Woods at Open Air Theatre.  It's been one of my favorite shows for a good many years, and it seemed like an outdoor venue would be the perfect environment for it.  When it finally started playing toward the beginning of August, I found tickets for a night that worked for us and looked forward to a nice evening in the evening cool of the out-of-doors.  Imagine, then, my dismay when, as we exited the tube station and hurried through Regent's Park, it began to rain.  Imagine further, then, my increasing despair when the rain didn't seem to be letting up, and the show was canceled before it had even begun!  The days are getting fewer and fewer, so it was unfortunate that an evening's plans were ruined by the rain which I usually love so well.  Luckily, the theatre has a wonderful weather cancellation policy, and offered tickets to all interested patrons to return another night.
I really loved how they actually were IN the woods, and how the stage was dirt and leaves.

A couple days later, we had a new pair of tickets for the following Tuesday night.  The skies looked clear and cloudless all that day, and we were in our seats with time to spare.  Then, just as the intermission started, light rain began to fall.  Then, as the second act started, heavier rain began to fall.  Then, just as the princes were finishing their reprise of "Agony," an announcer asked the actors to leave the stage, and informed the audience that the show would be placed on hold to see if the weather would let up.  Then, as the audience were filing into the covered dining/bar area, pouring rain started to fall, and we again heard that dreaded announcement of cancellation, again with the option of obtaining return tickets.  This was starting to get a little ridiculous, and those who know me know how I hate to quit watching something halfway through, so I thought about what evenings we had open for the rest of them week and picked one for our return to see the final episode.

Two days later, I was checking forecasts on three different websites, praying I had made the right choice for the night of our return.  Imagine, then, my amazement when, as we exited the tube station again and hurried through Regent's Park again, it began to rain, again!  This time we were arriving considerably later, hoping to just catch the second half.  The park was closed, but we were allowed in, only to find the box office had also closed when the show started.  We decided to wait it out at the entrance until intermission (we could hear Act I coming to a close from within), but a police officer recommended we try to enter through the back way, since the front gates would be closed for the remainder of the evening.  We couldn't seem to find the "back way," but we did find the emergency exit, blocked though it was.  A very nice usher, who might at first have thought I was some kind of transient or madman, or both, heard me out, had a momentary struggle about finding his manager and seeing about the closed box office, then finally just decided to let us on it, with instructions we just be discreet about where we sat, and also with a warning that they expected heavy rain showers to start halfway through the second act.  We figured we might as well give it a try, so we stuck around, and even had better seats this time around.  When "Agony (Reprise)" began, I looked skyward, and sure enough, the rain had begun to fall.  Some of the audience put up their umbrellas and Julie put on her coat, and amazingly, fittingly, while the rain continued throughout the entire second half, it never fell harder than a steady drizzle.  The show was wonderful, the cast was mostly good, the costumes and staging were inventive, and of course the music was excellent.  Success at last!  And in phases!
I guess it's part of the experience to see so much true London rain.  Much thanks to my patient wife for putting up with my persistence (read: obsessiveness) in seeing the show, and much thanks also to unnamed usher for your assistance.

(As ever, check out Julie's blog for other exciting events from last week as our return home fast approaches!)


  1. What a stage, and story! Way to stick to it. Sad that it's coming to and end.

  2. Never thought I'd here you complaining about rain. How annoying though. I love that show, and would've been in "agony" as well. Hope you are enjoying your last days there.

  3. I can't believe it rained out so many times! You guys have certainly been seeing your share of shows. Which is great, you should take advantage of their easy access! And I would think the price is better than NY as well.

  4. At least you are getting to see awesome shows! Enjoy the rain while you can, because we don't get much of it out here.