Save London’s Theatres Campaign, a campaign that worked!
Save London’s Theatres Campaign (SLTC) was founded in 1972 by Equity and its members. In 1972, Greater London Council came up with a plan for development of Covent Garden, which included demolition of 12 theatres and effectively making 4 other Covent Garden Theatres unusable. The theatres under threat included: Shaftesbury, Phoenix, Piccadilly, Cambridge, Arts, Hippodrome, Criterion, Wyndham’s, Noel Coward, Duke of Yorks, Garrick, Adelphi, Vaudeville, Lyceum, Duchess and Coliseum. This was followed by a huge campaign including 72-hour vigil at the Shaftesbury Theatre, where actors formed a human chain to prevent it from being knocked down. Save the London’s Theatre Campaign closed down in 2009 and saved 20 performance houses in London during the 37 years of its existence.
Garrick Theatre is in the Nimax Theatres Group covered in my Lyric Theatre post.
Garrick opened in 1889 and hosted all sorts of different genre performances including: French-style comedies, farces, pantomimes, Shakespeare, etc. Garrick Theatre was nearly destroyed in 1934 when it was planned to be converted into a so called ‘Super Cinema’, but the plan got cancelled. Garrick was under threat again to be demolished for new development in the early 1970s, together with few other West End theatres; this time it was saved by actors, musicians, theatre owners and other arts people united under the “Save London Theatres Campaign”. Garrick had major restoration works in the 1990s. In 1986, the Garrick was acquired by the Stoll Moss Group, which later was taken over by Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatre. Nimax Group purchased Garrick in 2005.
The play starts at the modest property of Alonso Quixano, Spanish nobleman, who after reading too many chivalry romances confides to his barber and the priest that he is going to become a knight and look for the adventures to prove himself worthy of a fictional character, Lady Dulcinea del Toboso. Don Quixote finds an old armour in his house, puts it on and goes to the nearest inn, imagining it is a castle and asks the innkeeper for accolade. The innkeeper mockingly dubs him a knight. Don Quixote on his way back to his village gets into a fight; he is bitten by the traders and left on the road. A local peasant finds Don Quixote and takes him home. While Don Quixote is recovering, his only heir, her niece decides to burn part of his library as per the priest’s guidance and lock up the room. They make Don Quixote believe that it was a wizard that destroyed his library. Don Quixote does not give up on his adventure and this time recruits a local farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire, promising him a great name and an island to govern. The two set off to make their names glorious, but in reality they become laughing stock in most situations. Don Quixote’s accomplished “deeds” presented in the play include: fighting windmills taken for giants; saving a lady, who did not need saving, from friars taken for enchanters; protecting a local beauty, Marcella, from an angry crowd accusing her in the death of Grisóstomo, a young man desperately in love with her; getting into a fight with musketeers; being bitten by innkeeper for staying at night and not paying; slaughtering a herd of sheep, taking it for a “dark cloud” and as a result being bitten by the shepherds; and freeing the galley slaves and being being by them in return. Don Quixote gives Sancho a letter to take to Lady Dulcinea before he gets bitten by the shepherds and is taken home. While Don Quixote is recovering he learns out that a book has been published about him and the whole of Spain knows about him and his deeds. Don Quixote once again sets off for an adventure with Sancho. This time, they head to Lady Dulcinea’s castle to get an answer to Don Quixote’s letter that Sancho has not delivered. As there is no castle and no Lady Dulcinea, Sancho decides to present a peasant girl as Lady Dulcinea to Don Quixote, assuming he would not notice her common looks due to his mental state. But Don Quixote decides that Lady Dulcinea was enchanted and she needs to be saved. On their journey Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are invited to a palace by a Duke and Duchess with great honours. At the palace Don Quixote and Sancho are ridiculed and then separated. Sancho is given an imaginary island where he is a governor, but he is not allowed to eat and his servants disobey and mock him. Don Quixote is given a nice lodging, where he is scared by cats and then tempted by ladies-in-waiting to test his devotion to lady Dulcinea. Sancho gives up his “island” and leaves the palace, soon to be followed by Don Quixote. Don Quixote is invited to a battle by the Knight of the White Moon, a young man courting Don Quixote’s niece and trying to make him go home to impress her. Don Quixote loses his battle and agrees to obey to prearranged terms, that is: retiring for one year. Don Quixote retires and falls seriously ill. As he is on his deathbed he recovers his sanity and apologises to Sancho for making him believe in chivalry and promising him an island, but Sancho encourages him to get out of bed and go back to chivalry and we see great Don Quixote in his armour once again.
This play is a Royal Shakespeare Company production that premiered at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of Cervantes’ death.
Director: Angus Jackson
Producer: Royal Shakespeare Company
Casting: Hannah Miller, Matthew Dewsbury
020 7845 0533; 07821 440 422
Bought my ticket from Nimax Theatres website. £25 for a middle seat in the back row of the stalls. The view was good but missed some parts of the show due to the overhang. It was quite cold in the back due to the exit doors and plus, you could hear a train passing by every 2 to 5 minutes. Maybe royal circle seats have better offering.
Running time is 2 hours 45 minutes.
The Theatre Rat