Where to see Shakespeare?
December 18, 2009 2:58 PM   Subscribe

Where should I go in London or Southern England to see Shakespeare performed live in early 2010?

I'm particularly interested if you have seen, or know of, any exciting performances by an excellent company, either well-known or not. It doesn't have to be a big-time production.
posted by BrokenEnglish to Society & Culture (8 answers total)
One really obvious place would be the Globe Theatre in London.
posted by Nick Jordan at 3:16 PM on December 18, 2009

Here's the complete list for the UK, including the RSC's Twelfth Night in London and a quartet of tragedies in Stratford.

Shakespeare's always slightly thin on the ground in the first quarter of the year -- the Globe's season doesn't open until the end of April, and the better student and touring performances are generally staged later in the year.
posted by holgate at 3:22 PM on December 18, 2009

The Royal Shakespeare Company, hands down. Truly excellent. They're probably the best Shakespeare company working in the UK, if not the world. They have a brilliant ensemble. I could go on for hours about how awesome they are.

Twelfth Night is running at the RSC until the end of February. I saw it at the beginning of the run and I would highly recommend it-- actually funny, visually impressive, great physical acting. It wasn't mind-bogglingly impressive like their Hamlet of last year, but by the same director (Greg Doran) and well worth seeing. (I like tragedies more than comedies so YMMV.) They're doing King Lear a bit later (February onwards) but that's by an RSC director I'm not familiar with. It does star Greg Hicks who was fucking awesome in the RSC Winter's Tale and good in their Julius Caesar.

You can see the RSC in Stratford Upon Avon. Stratford is not that difficult to get to from London. (As you can tell I'm totally evangelical on this subject and if you want any further info, please feel free to metamail me.)

If you can see something at the Globe too, I'd go ahead, but I'd run to the RSC.

If you get the chance to see any Shakespeare at all by The Factory Theatre (they tour), please please please do so (and tell me how they are.) I've heard rave reviews but through blind bad luck have never managed to see them.
posted by somergames at 4:00 PM on December 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

I saw a great production of The Merchant of Venice a few years ago done by Northern Broadsides and would highly recommend the company. There's something rather wonderful about Shakespeare done really well in northern accents. I've nothing to say against the RSC, but there are other good ways of playing Shakespeare.

Sadly their production of Othello (with Lenny Henry!) just finished its London run, but it will be touring and will pass through the Rose Theatre, Kingston sometime between February and May (the exact dates are not listed on their site).
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 5:25 PM on December 18, 2009

Somergames and holgate have covered it very well, but yes, RSC productions of Shakespeare's play are outstanding. The RSC Twelfth Night is in London at the moment. In Stratford they are doing Arabian Nights at the moment (it is not Shakespeare it is marvelous). They start King Lear in Stratford in mid-February.

And The Factory's productions, which are nothing like the RSC's are also well worth a visit.
posted by sueinnyc at 6:17 PM on December 18, 2009

Thank you to all. I had seen the RSC "Arabian Nights" production listed on their website, but wasn't sure, and I also tend to prefer tragedy so wasn't sure about Twelfth Night either.

That list is just the thing and I will take the other recommendations on board as well.

Motivation: keep telling myself to go to the theatre but keep being lazy. Just saw Michael Woods's series on Shakespeare and that had enough clips of performances (by the RSC mainly) to make me feel I'm just missing too much here.
posted by BrokenEnglish at 2:27 AM on December 19, 2009

Bear in mind we're in panto season when many of the venues move to Christmas special shows. So the early 2010 productions won't have opened yet and you won't get many specific recommendations.

I like the Globe too, it's well worth checking out when it opens in spring. If you're healthy and over 5'8 or so, the £5 standing tickets actually give you a better view than most of the seats, where there are pillars in the way. Does attract a large tourist crowd though, and you have to expect some distracting noise.

If you want theatre reviews, some blogs to keep an eye on are Guardian theatre, the West End Whingers and Spoonfed's theatre section.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:08 AM on December 19, 2009

Thanks, I'll try the Globe as soon as it has something I want to see. I'm not sure about standing for several hours but otoh the idea of theatre in the round is always appealing. Thanks also for the blog links.

(BTW, would have probably "bested" everyone for the useful information but I understand it's considered poor form.)
posted by BrokenEnglish at 11:47 AM on December 19, 2009

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