London · Musical · play · Theatre · West End

A Small History of London’s Theatre Land

As I head to London next week to begin an internship it seems fitting to research into my favourite London pastime- the theatre. Whether it be a play or musical, of old or young, I’m eager to see as much as I can in the next eight weeks. Yet how did our affection with the theatre begin?

Theatre LandThe very first West End theatre opened in 1663, sadly it burned down less then ten years later. However, it’s a clear starting point for London’s famous theatre scene. We’ve been venturing around Shaftesbury Avenue for over three hundred years. But we can do slightly better then that, Shakespeare’s play’s nearly 500 years later still appear to be timeless. We each know the love story of Romeo and Juliet, the revenge and jealousy of Othello down to the supernatural Macbeth. It’s an experience to be repeated, enjoyed again and again.

MousetrapSo it amazed me to discover that Agatha Christie’s murder mystery stands as the longest continuous play; currently in its 63rd year. That we continue to suspect, detect and manipulate show after show? The Mousetrap’s themes are echoed into our every day lives, relatable yet exaggerated. As we in turn take the role of detective for the evening, leaving our own life behind us.

Les Miserables stands behind in its 30th year but holds on to the longest running musical. How are we still being transported to France’s revolution eight times a week? Yet each audience fights alongside the revolution, witnesses the love story of Marius and Cosette all in amongst Javert and Jean Valjean’s quest for righteousness and justice; something is clearly working.

As new audiences arrive and others return, the theatre scene continues to succeed; we want to be transported to a different world, view a new scene and revisit tales told again and again.

What are your favourite theatre shows?

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