Sunday, 6 July 2008

Our National Theatre

Last night I went with friends to the Cottesloe at the National Theatre on the South Bank, to see a delightful school competition-winning production, by my mate Pete, of a lovely little play called 'Peach Baby'. This isn't a review of the play, but of the venue.

What a squalid place! Finding the way in, from the stinking carpark through brutalist concrete walkways with virtually no signposting, was bad enough. Once we actually stumbled into the foyer of what should be #3 on the nation's list of theatrical pride (after the Olivier and the Lyttelton), it felt a bit like being back in the car park, plus a tacky overpriced pay bar and toilets which (I was told), made users nostalgic for the car park.

I saw a picture in the paper today of China's Grand National Theatre in Beijing, which has apparently been heavily criticised for its architecture. Obviously I haven't been there so can't directly compare (and the fact that its architect also did CdG airport in Paris doesn't entirely inspire confidence) - but nevertheless I can't help feeling I wouldn't mind doing a swap ...

London is currently, I'm told, the theatre capital of the world. Beijing is of course the current Olympic capital of the world. Compare and contrast in five years' time?

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