I was also feeling a little worried, as I do whenever I go anywhere new, because even with assurances that wheelchair access will be fine, it often isn’t.
On this occasion, yay, it was not bad at all, though getting from West London across to the Tower Bridge area was the usual nightmare, not helped by road closures all over Central London for the Lumiere shows going on this weekend. Luckily, we left with time to spare – one and a half hours to get from one side of London to the other!
If you go by car, once in the vicinity of the theatre, do drive carefully as many roads are closed for roadworks – pretty normal for London and very irritating – and others are one-way so, miss a turn, and it’s a big circle back round.
However, we got to the drop off spot on Potter’s Field pretty easily despite being somewhat confused that there was no sight of the Theatre or signs to it but just the massive facade of the LaLiT Hotel on Tooley Street with residential flats to the rear where we thought the Theatre would be.
After D got out and looked around, we managed to park in a disabled bay in front of the hotel, I rolled out onto the wide pavement and we wheeled/walked through the complex, taking the path to the right of the hotel, round the back to the Bridge Theatre which faces out across the river, with a mighty fine view of Tower Bridge.
The entire route and the Theatre itself were all step-free so easily accessible as were our space/seat, once we were inside the foyer.
The foyer was, as you might expect, teeming with people which is always a little uncomfortable for a wheelchair user as your face and head tend to be at elbow/drinks level and ambulant people have an alarming tendency to take a step back into/in front of you. That they look at you, post collision, as if it’s your fault just adds insult to any injury you’ve suffered.
We cut a swathe through the crowds as quickly as we were able, picking up drinks and a freshly made-up sandwich – wow, what a treat at a Theatre: snacks from the St John Bakery – on the way to our seats.
Inside, we had a great view and the Theatre is a fantastic space which was incredibly well-used for this production of what is often a rather dry, historical play by Shakespeare … with the usual quota of well-known lines, of course.
Actually, that all sounds a little dry too, as commentary, because this was probably the best version of this play that I’ve ever seen and I really want to rave about it.
Standing tickets were sold to members of the audience who, in the stage space, became a very lively Roman crowd, moving, swaying, singing and living the events laid out before them.
The actors, Ben Whishaw, David Morrissey, Michelle Fairley, prominent amongst them, were excellent, bringing clarity and strength to the words, and the actor/audience connection seemed dynamically alive with the proximity of the performance and the flexibility of the staging.
A tour de force of performance, production and staging. The kind of night at a theatre that you remember for a very long time.
Throughly recommended and completely wheelchair accessible.
Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre, 3 Potters Fields Park, London, SE1 2SG.
Runs to 15 April 2018. NT Live cinema screenings on 22 March 2018.