We got lost. As Sami, Sophie and I hurried past museums, ships and theaters, searching for any sign of a theater called The Scoop and imploring locals for directions, we realized just how extensive London’s Southbank really is.
Before that night, our group visited numerous other spots along the Southbank. We toured the Tate Modern Art Museum, popped by the Borough Market for lunch, strode past a collection of small greenhouses and took advantage of photo opts at historical sites. Though all of these places were drastically different from one another, it was the theaters that really caught our attention.
We hurried in the opposite direction of the London Wonderground, which hosts cabaret-style performances inside vintage carnival grounds. It’s a throwback experience, one that reminds viewers how London must have been entertained before the days of television or film. We’d greatly enjoyed our time there, especially watching the antics of the contortionist and the juggler, but knew that we had to press onward. The Scoop Theater had to be close. Right?
After ten minutes or so, we reached Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, which we’d attended for productions of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Tempest” during our time in England. Both times, we were groundlings. We stood, enthralled, for three hours. Though the theater is a recreation of Shakespeare’s original space, standing to watch these traditional shows felt very Elizabethan. I kept moving, past the crowd gathering outside of The Globe gate, and reminded myself of our mission. There was no time for distraction, and time was getting short.
I’m happy to report that we did have a third theatrical experience at the Southbank. We scurried towards the Tower Bridge, grabbed dinner at a local grocery store, and rushed into the open air Scoop Theater. The performance space matches its name, as the theater looks like it was scooped out of the Southbank with a spoon. It often hosts free performances of classical shows, like the abbreviated versions of Oedipus and Antigone we saw that cool, London evening. As twilight darkened into night, we picked away at croissants, huddled together for warmth, and were swept away by Greek tragedy.
Though there are many other sights along the Southbank, these three theaters aptly display the area’s diversity. I’m glad that we found The Scoop that fateful night, but I have to admit that if I were to get lost anywhere in London, I’d choose the Southbank. There’s always an adventure hiding somewhere nearby.