London is actually quite a green city. It might be easy to forget amongst the skyscrappers of the city and the bustle of the West End, but, from royal parks to garden squares, the green green grass of home gives Londoners and their guests a multitude of places to relax and enjoy the season.
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Nowhere more so than Regent’s Park. Situated just north of London’s West End, close to Madame Tussauds, the Sherlock Holmes Museum, Little Venice, and Camden Lock it is home to London Zoo, Frieze London and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.
The last time I came here I was lucky enough to enjoy the double delights of seeing the, then, new Gorilla enclosure and a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This year I combined the two with a single visit to the theatre to see a dramatisation of Michael Morpogo’s “Running Wild”.
The whole evening was magical. From the gentle stroll through the park in the late afternoon sun, to the final scenes of the play, set in the jungles of Indonesia, with elephants and orang utangs and brightly coloured birds on stage and the animals from London Zoo adding to the soundtrack off across the park. The jungles of Indonesia my be in danger but here in North London they seem to be thriving: at least for 2 hours each night!
Having spent some time both in the jungles of Indonesia and getting to know the guests at one of the the Orang Utang Orphanages there this production was a particular delight to me. OK it lacks some of the sophistication of its more well-known predescessor, War Horse but the tale of a boy and his friendship with an elephant is delightful – but more of that another time.
This is about enjoying a completely different theatrical experience to the one you get in the West End. Where the gentle rustle of the trees punctuates the performance as the stage lights take over from the sun.
The park itself is one of the Royal Parks. As well as wide open spaces it offers formal gardens, lakes, bandstands, quiet paths and majestic trees. For a London theatre trip in summer it offers the opportunity to take a picnic for your pre-theatre dinner although we decided to meet at a nearby pub called The Volunteer where we could have eaten but finally decided on grabbing a spag bol and glass of red from the Italian cafe just a few doors down.
Suitably warmed we headed out into the early summers evening. Although we were armed for wintry conditions (as you always should be for an open air production in the UK) it was a nice surprise to find that we didn’t need the hats and scarves until the second act. The area around the theatre is lovely: as relaxing a “foyer and bar” area cannot be found in the rest of London, except maybe the balcony bar at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane or the stunning Paul Hamlyn Hall Champagne Bar at the Royal Opera House.
The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is just one of the summer Theatre seasons you can catch during a London theatre trip in Summer. Look out also for Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Udderbelly and London Wonderground all along the Southbank.