If you’re a fan of theatre, where better to see one of Shakespeare’s plays than in the venue that’s home to the world-famous Royal Shakespeare Company?
Not only does the Swan Theatre on the banks of the River Avon offer top-quality productions, the building is also home to exhibitions, tours, a cafe and restaurant and a shop, to keep visitors well entertained.
You might expect top-notch theatre to carry top-notch prices, but that’s not necessarily so. We took advantage of a special offer announced on Twitter to snap up £5 tickets to see Hamlet.
The catch was that the performance was being filmed to be shown in cinemas next day, so there were seven cameras in use throughout. That was no problem, however: they didn’t intrude, the action flowed smoothly – and an RSC ticket for a fiver is my bargain of the year so far.
Normal tickets cost a bit more – from £18 to £55 – but even then you can get over-60s discount of 20% off Monday and Tuesday evening performances plus midweek matinees.
Provision for disabled people is excellent with tickets costing £16 for the visitor and their companion, accessible toilets, wheelchair access etc. There are audio-described performances and you can even take your assistance dog!
Watching the world’s best at work in the RSC’s home venue was an absolute treat: the sightlines were flawless, and every bit of the building was used to full effect, with players appearing from within the stage, abseiling down from the ceiling, and racing in along the gangways.
If that’s not enough, there are costumes on show throughout the theatre, including some you can try on; Discovery Tours of the Other Place nearby, which doubles as costume store, rehearsal rooms and studio theatre; Tours of the Tower, offering fantastic views from the top of the building; and, coming soon, The Play’s The Thing, a new exhibition celebrating Shakespeare on stage in the town.
Parking can be interesting but we found a very handy place at the Recreation Ground Car Park, where it cost £6 for nine hours (after 4pm it’s £2 until 8am next morning which is great for an evening show).
And after the play, what better than fish and chips by the Avon, then a stroll around the canal basin and a coffee at the RSC cafe before heading home?
Our visit proved to be a magical day and an absolute bargain: look out for the special offers and brush up your Shakespeare in his 400th anniversary year.