I’ve been to London quite a bit, on various business trips. I visited almost all of the museums, palaces and similar places to see, but never went to a theatre. I passed endless ads for musicals and shows getting on and off the Tube, but never really made up my mind to go. I’m not a theatre fan. What made me finally go was probably the fact that I’m huge Lord of the Rings fan. I have seen the movies probably 30 times each, so you can imagine. :)
Don’t worry, there wan’t be any spoilers in this post
LotR is put on stage at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, a theatre with a very colorful and rich history spanning 4 centuries. It’s located just off the Covent Garden, on Catherine St. A lovely building and a huge auditorium inside. I purchased my ticket over a phone just 3h prior to 19:30 show. It was a ticket for the balcony. Having been only to Serbian theathres, I would describe this “balcony” more like one story over the roof. The stage is clearly visible and sound and speech are perfectly carried up, but it’s impossible to see the faces. Even with looking glass which cost 50p to pickup and use.
If you go, buy your self a lower seat (30+ pounds).
As soon as you enter, a elaborate stage awaits you, with huge ring in the center. A wonderful breath-taking setup, without any doubt. There’s a pre-show, that starts 15mins earlier, with Hobits having fun at the stage.
How good it was? Well, this certainly is a huge challenge. For anyone who have read the LotR, it is obvious that it takes a lot of courage to portray this even remotely properly. There is so much going on, that even 12h long movie that Peter Jackson and his team did was not enough and required a large changes in original story.
The same applies here. The story line is different from the movie. It is also very different from the books, most notably in Acts II and III. Really different.
The production is amazing. Lighting, special effects, atmosphere, scene movements, it really is great. There were several “aagh” and “oooh” from the audience during the show. The theatre allows far more singing than the movie. There are so much songs in the book and the writers really relied on them to make a compelling show. Almost all of the characters sing and, boy, do they sing. My personal favourites were performances by Galadriel and Legolas (sorry girls, no Bloom here) . Such a clear and powerful voices, they had me pinned to the edge of the seat.
Unfortunately, sometimes lyrics were hard to understand, when there was a loud orchestra background music.
If I had to take the pick, Act I is the best. The storyline is closest to the book, the stage effects are still fresh and the pace of the story is inviting. Act II is the weakest part I think, where so much things - I approximate more than half the books - were cramped in 15-20mins. However, the opening of the Act II is one of the best character entries in the entire show, if not the best. I won’t tell you what it is, it would spoil the fun and excitement.
Act III was ok, with emphasis on the Frodo and Sam and with fantastic scene of the ring destruction. That really blew me away and was an astounding use of several actors for one character.
Go and see it. You will have a good time. It lasts 3h (with one 20min interval after Act I) and apart from 20mins of Act II everything else is good to superb.
Just bring a few bottles of water with you, as it is very, very hot and humid inside. You can buy water inside too, if you forget to do it. In the lobby, you can buy mugs and t-shirts and other memorabilia. The long-sleeve logo t-shirt is nice and thin, thus it’s ok for the summer. I’m not sure about the cotton quality though - it remains to be seen how it will survive repeated washing.