On Stage this Summer - London's Alternative Theatre
With London’s International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) taking place for the next two months, the city is overflowing with interesting theatre-related things to do in London. For those of you looking for cheap theatre tickets and something quirkier than London’s mainstream West End offerings, here’s our roundup of the best leftfield stage action this summer.
Motor Show (Requardt & Rosenberg)
This original, large-scale outdoor dance performance by the name of Motor Show takes you into the intimate interiors of cars and the minds of the people inside them. When you arrive, you are given a pair of headphones to wear and you witness cars approaching from the distance. You then observe and listen aurally (via the headphones) to what’s going on inside the vehicles, from a young couple kissing obliviously to others arguing and setting the world to rights. Their whole lives are laid out before your eyes. It’s voyeurism at its best (and it’s free).
The show is part of LIFT and directed by Frauke Requardt and David Rosenberg, the creators of the 2010 award-winning production, Electric Hotel.
Location: West Parkside, Greenwich Peninsula, Area 12, SE10 0DX
Dates: 23 - 27 June (21:45)
100% London (Rimini Protokoll)
100% London (also part of LIFT) represents a cross section of London’s 7.8 million people population, quite literally. The Rimini Protokoll theatre group has adopted a ‘reality trend’ practice of working with non-professionals. Rather than holding standard auditions and recruiting actors the normal way, 100% London started with the casting of one member who had to recruit another within 24 hours, who then recruited another and so on over the course of three months until there were 100 cast members. A specific criteria was followed in order to mirror the diverse ages, genders and ethnicities that make up London. The show challenges the “lies, damned lies and statistics” and presents the truth about modern London life with real stories of real people.
Location: Hackney Empire, Main House, 291 Mare Street, London E8 1EJ
Dates: 29, 30 June (19:30) and 1 July (17:00)
This is one theatre experience you won’t forget in a hurry, even if it’s just for the fact that it’s the longest play you’ve ever been to. The play opens in the office of a small business, where an employee finds a copy of The Great Gatsby on his desk. He starts to read it aloud to the audience and doesn’t stop and you witness a word-for-word staging of F.Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel The Great Gatsby about 1920s America during which the lines between the reality on stage and the novel start to blur. At eight hours long (with three breaks, including a long dinner interval) you’ll certainly get your money’s worth and it sounds a lot more fun than reading the book yourself.
It’s performed by the award-winning New York ensemble Elevator Repair Service and it’s the only contemporary LIFT show to be making it into the West End.
Location: Noël Coward Theatre, St. Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4AU
Dates: 8 June - 15 July (14.30)
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical (Seabright Productions)
This unique musical returns to E4 Udderbelly Festival for a third year. The secret to its popularity is that no performance is ever the same; in fact a brand new full-length musical is created from scratch every time. The all-singing, all-dancing cast improvise the show on the spot with the help of audience input so we can’t tell you anymore about it except that there’ll be a lot of laughs and lashings of creativity. Aside from the show, the upside down purple cow venue is an experience in itself.
Location: Udderbelly, Southbank Centre, Jubilee Gardens, off Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX
Dates: Until 8 July
Friday Night Freakshow (Time Out Live)
This show is not for the fainthearted. Expect shocking, hysterical and downright weird performances from some of the finest performers on the alternative cabaret circuit. It takes you to the dark side of comedy and entertainment. Anything and everything can and will happen so go prepared. The show takes place within a gigantic Spiegeltent and is part of the Priceless London Wonderground summer festival that brings the spirit of Coney Island to London with circus, sideshow, comedy and cabaret acts (co-organised by the same team behind the Udderbelly festival).
Location: Priceless London Wonderground, Southbank Centre, Jubilee Gardens, off Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX
Dates: August 31, September 14 and 28 (22.45)
If you’re looking to get your hands on more cheap theatre tickets in London, check out the discounts offered by the theatre clubs in our tasters.