For years I’ve fantasized about joining the People’s Light London Tour. In 2024, the stars finally aligned, and along with 25 other theater-lovers, I left Philadelphia on February 23 for what promised to be—and was—a memorable cultural adventure.


Eight plays in eight days is my new personal record. (Actually, seven plays and one wildly entertaining ABBA concert/technological spectacle.) Most of the performances were carefully curated by PL staff and our knowledgeable tour hosts from London Arts Discovery; one evening was left open so we could choose our own entertainment. The range of plays (and venues) was extraordinary—we laughed, we cried, we laughed some more. We enjoyed two Shakespeare productions, including a riveting “MacBeth” with Ralph Fiennes and Indira Varma; and thought-provoking new works like “The Hills of California” by Jez Butterworth and “The Motive and the Cue” by Jack Thorne. Our day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon was a real treat—we had time to visit sites including Shakespeare’s birthplace and his grammar school before enjoying the Royal Shakespeare Company’s visually dazzling production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” 

Our group not only enjoyed the shared experience of watching so many fine performances together; most nights we returned to our hotel (the oh-so-welcoming Montague in Bloomsbury) to discuss the plays. Those conversations inevitably spilled over into breakfast and were enhanced by visits from cast members, who generously offered insights into the play-making process and their specific roles. Additional discussions led by London Arts Discovery staff featured a Shakespeare scholar, a journalist, an art historian, and a theater critic. We learned so much from these guests, and then from each other, as we compared notes during bus transfers or over meals.

While the tour schedule was ambitious, it offered just enough free time to allow us to explore London on our own. Highlights included a London Walks Beatles tour, which proved to be the perfect warm-up for the ABBA show later that day; afternoon tea, in various settings; wandering around Bloomsbury; and visiting Shakespeare’s Globe and assorted museums, including the Victoria & Albert and the National Portrait Gallery.

When I signed on for the 2024 London Tour, I thought I was checking an item off my bucket list. But even before I recovered from the jet lag, I knew I’d be coming back again. The trip was wonderful from start to finish, and not least because we had such a warm and merry band of travelers. Note: Two plays we saw are being featured at Bryn Mawr Film Institute as part of the “Stage on Screen” program. While it’s obviously not the same as seeing a live performance, these film versions are always well done. See “MacBeth” on May 19 or June 29; see “The Motive and the Cue” on June 1.