Theatreland Tour with Ian McKellen
Somerset House Terrace with View to the National Theatre
Ah, now the terrace of Somerset House. It gives a splendid view across the River Thames. At least when the trees are bare, otherwise you’ll have to dodge your sight through the leaves. I want you to turn right and walk along the terrace. And if you can see through the trees, why not steal the odd glance across the river.
That grey, concrete building on the far bank is the National Theatre of Great Britain. It’s the one with the ticker tape running across the top. The original idea was to build the National Theatre, not here in the centre of London but out in South Kensington, near the Victoria and Albert museum, miles away. I’m rather glad it ended up reasonably near the West End but south of the river, which is always been thought to be the more disreputable part of town. After all, it’s where Shakespeare’s own theatre, the Globe was built.
What do you think of the design of the National Theatre, by the way? Do you like it? Some people call it a stunning piece of brutalist architecture. All that concrete. I not going to give you my opinion. I don’t want another letter from the National’s Theatre’s director telling me to keep my mouth shut.
Now, I hope you’re feeling up to a little exercise, we’re about to tackle some stairs. I’ll let you know when we get to them.