One of the big hits on the West End at the moment is Quartermaine’s Terms by John Gray. It features Rowan Atkinson as St John Quartermaine in his first straight stage role in 25 years. When we heard about it, we bought tickets. And today was the day.
And, it would appear, that spring has finally arrived (I guess the jet stream has moved to where it’s supposed to be) as sun and blue skies shone down on a beautiful London.
We were going to the Wyndham Theatre on Charing Cross Road so we decided to wander around Covent Garden, looking for somewhere for our London lunch. Carluccio’s looked good; the queue didn’t. It would have been a wait of 90 minutes for a table. We didn’t bother waiting.
Just up the road, we found Benito’s Hat, a Mexican place with a difference. A woman, who seemed to be the owner, took us through the procedure. You choose your basic meal (taco, burrito, salad) and then choose your filling, sauce and toppings.
We had three tacos with pork (Mirinda) and chicken (me) with a variety of bits and pieces inside. The taco shells were the proper soft ones and the meal was delicious. Thoroughly enjoyable. Mirinda claims her watermelon Margarita was pretty brilliant too.
A highly recommended place with delicious food, excellent service and pleasantly chatty staff. When we arrived and while we ate, the place was pretty empty but when we walked passed a little later, it was heaving. Good to see.
After lunch we took a stroll around Covent Garden, along with the thousands of tourists out enjoying the sun, buskers and Punch and Judy balcony bar. We then walked across to the theatre.
We still wound up being in our seats half an hour before curtain (so different to last week), which gave me a good opportunity to review the theatre.
We had front row seats. This is generally a good thing because people don’t tread on your feet getting to their seats. However, a word of warning about this theatre. The front row curves quite dramatically. This means that the first two seats on either side are awfully close to the stage edge. Subsequently, people tread on your feet as they walk from one side of the auditorium to the other.
The other problem with Wyndham’s is the width of the seats. They seem too narrow for a normal sized human (perhaps they were designed by a German train seating expert) which makes one feel as if they are sitting half on the person in the next seat. Obviously that’s fine if you know them but seems a bit invasive if you don’t.
The seat width is always going to be a problem, however, if I was going to buy tickets in the front row again, it would be in the middle rather than the edges. Though, next time we visit, I’m going to check out the price of the boxes.
The theatre itself is small (intimate, the programme says) and beautifully decorated. Of course, photography is forbidden at all times, so it’s impossible to actually show anyone this beauty. Still, at least they have signs everywhere indicating photography anytime is prohibited.
Something very impressive was the ushers. They speak clearly, enunciating perfectly, projecting beautifully. They were courteous and helpful. Possibly the best ushers I’ve ever experienced. I’d return to the theatre just for them.
We thoroughly loved it. The play is incredibly funny and incredibly sad (I was almost in tears by the end) and the cast was excellent. There were no weaknesses at all.
Rowan Atkinson played Quartermaine with a beautiful restraint, giving him a delightful appeal, which amplifies the sadness at the end. But, most important, he didn’t overshadow any of the others.
The cast was really superb. I’m going to list all of them because they were so good. Louise Ford (Anita), Matthew Cottle (Mark), Malcolm Sinclair (Eddie), Will Keen (Derek), Conleth Hill (Henry) and a wonderfully manic Felicity Montagu (Melanie). All of them were completely believable and a delight to watch.
The play itself is very English and, I would have thought, quite mystifying to foreigners however, the Schumanians sitting behind us seemed to enjoy it as much as we did though there was a bit of translating going on.
It’s for productions like this that we love living in Britain so much. And it’s for productions like this that we love theatre so much.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable day, perfectly finished off with a walk across the river to Waterloo.
We love living so close to London. It really is one of the most wonderful places on Earth.