England–Day Four–The Day

I did not eat the black pudding or baked beans

I did not eat the black pudding or baked beans’

I’m a day late posting because it was such a big day yesterday. We started off having a traditional English breakfast, just a bit modernized to be healthier. I had bacon, more like smoked ham, with veggie sausage, a poached egg, cooked tomatoes, mushrooms and a pastry. Yum!

Next was a solo trip to Trafalger Square and the fabulous National Gallery of Art where I saw artwork by Titian, Rembrandt,┬áMichelangelo, DaVinci–the British masters, like Turner, Gainsbourgh, Stubbs–and my favorites–the Impressionists–Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas and Van Gogh. One of my favorites was Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. I also liked Geoge Stubbs famous horse paintings. One of my favorite paintings was by an artist I did’t know of a tall, thin knight who had a wounded foot and knee, so he couldn’t fight anymore. Just the look on his face and all the details. It was magnificent.

Wounded Knight by Meroni

Wounded Knight by Meroni

I saw too much to write it all here, but the eras that the gallery spans makes this a great place to visit for just about any book in the English canon that my students might want to make the subject of their travel project. And entrance is free! After I wandered the halls with my trusty audio guide (very helpful and easy to use–only a few pounds), I went down to the gallery cafe and had a pastry pie, a traditional favorite. Then bought a few gifts in the gallery store.Then I wandered around the square a little while, taking in all the sights. I especially enjoyed the musicians playing in the squares and the character actors–Yoda, the wicked witch and tin man.

After I made my way back on the Underground, we rested a while, and it was off for the big night! We took a cab to the Barbican, which is a modern entertainment complex, away from the main theater district. Our seats were fantastic, about five rows back.

When the curtain came up, there was Benedict Cumberbatch, right in front of us, and he was strong the whole way through. The whole cast was good, but my favorites,other than Cumberbatch, were Horatio, Ophelia, and Polonius. The gravedigger always brings some needed comic relief.

Stage early in the first act

Stage early in the first act

The staging was also fantastic. Everything was stylistic, ranging from Victorian Era through the 60’s. The main set was like an Old Victorian Mansion that continued to decline during the first act. At the end of the third act when Hamlet is banished and Cladius is alone on stage, all this sooty material blows through the doors. When the second act begins, there are just piles of rubble allover. It was impressive–one of the best night’s at the theater. I’ve ever had.

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