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London - The city of theatres

London - The city of theatres

longest running play Mousetrap in St Martins theatre

London is one of the best cities in the world to visit, especially if you happen to be a theatre lover. Indeed, Londoners pride themselves on the fact that their city was largely responsible for bringing the theatre to the public. Nowadays, London`s theatre world tends to be separated into three groups: West End theatre; fringe theatre and repertory theatre. Here is the pick of what is currently being shown at each.

West End Theatre
As far as theatre is concerned, the West End generally refers to the areas around Shaftesbury Avenue, the Strand and, most importantly, Leicester Square. The shows here are generally huge, lavish and expensive productions. The venues also tend to be relatively large, often reaching seating capacities of up to 2,000, although there are a few smaller ones that only seat around 250 people.

Tickets for West End shows are, on the whole, relatively expensive. Indeed, ticket prices can often be around the £70 to £100 mark, especially if you insist on having a premium seat. However, there are generally always some cheaper seats available, which on less popular days of the week can be as little as £15.

`After Miss Julie` by Patrick Marber will soon be playing at the Young Vic (15 Mar - 14 Apr). The play is a drama set in 1945 in England after Labour`s landslide victory in the elections. But Miss Julie`s world is set to be turned upside down in one gloriously eventful night.

Meanwhile at the Young Vic`s older relation, the Old Vic, John Webster`s marvellous Jacobean tragedy `The Duchess of Malfi` is playing from March 17 until June 9.

Alternatively, if you want to see Jonathan Bates`s unmissable `Being Shakespeare`, which features the multi-talented Simon Callow, you will have to be quick. This Shakespearian extravaganza is currently on at Trafalgar Studios but closes at the end of March.

Fringe Theatre
Basically, any theatres that are considered to be `off West End` are generally placed in the fringe category.

Highlights include `Children`s Children` by Matthew Dunster, which is showing at the Almeida Theatre from March 17 until June 20. The play revolves around the friendship of Gordon and Michael, who first met at drama school 20 years earlier. While Michael is hugely successful, Gordon`s career is floundering.

This play is sharing the bill with Tanya Ronder`s English version of Eduardo`s De Filippo `Filumena`. Set in the tumultuous Naples of the 1940s, Domenico Soriano is set to marry Filumena, his secret mistress of 25 years. Or is he? The play is showing from March 15 until May 12.

Repertory Theatre
In simple terms, repertory theatre means the shows are rotated on a regular basis, meaning you could see several different shows at one venue in any given week. Included in London`s list of repertory theatres are the National Theatre and Shakespeare`s Globe Theatre.

Coming soon to the National Theatre is Don Taylor`s version of the Sophocles` classic Antigone, which is playing from May 23 until June 20. Further highlights include `Moon on a Rainbow Shawl`, a play by Errol John set in Port of Spain (07 Mar - 09 June).

However, if you are something of a Shakespeare enthusiast, there is really only place to go. Shakespeare`s Globe Theatre consistently puts on the finest productions of Shakespeare`s work you are ever likely to see. Fortunately, the season stretches from April to September.

The main season starts in June with Dominic Dromgoole`s fabulous new production of `Henry V` (June 07). Also showing are small-scale productions such as `Hamlet` and `As You Like It`.

The Rest
There also exists what are known as `regional` theatres and they tend to concentrate on touring shows. Many can be found in areas such as Richmond and Wimbledon, a little way outside the centre. Taking advantage of cheap car hire for the week to get to them is not a bad idea, especially if you plan on visiting a variety of shows.

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