Best Shakespeare plays being performed live in London this year
"It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves." Take charge of your destiny this spring and find out the best Shakespeare plays to go see.
We know that the course of true love never did run smooth, so it’s possible that you might have fallen out of love with Shakespeare over the years.
With school curriculums, musical spin-offs and hundreds of movie adaptations, it’s easy to feel over-exposed to the bard and his plays.
But now, it’s time to heal those wounds and rediscover your love for Britain’s biggest playwright.
This spring and summer, we’re spoilt for choice with the number of Shakespeare plays to see across the UK. Whether it’s in the historic Globe Theatre, his birthplace Stratford-upon-Avon or on tour, there’s plenty of ways to see one of his iconic plays.
There’s also a variety of adaptations to suit any kind of theatregoer. Some will be very classic versions for the more traditional viewer, like The Globe’s The Comedy of Errors, while others are really pushing the boat out this year, like Adjoa Andoh’s Richard III.
As a medium, Shakespeare has been reimagined so many times and in so many ways which means you’ll never really run out of original performances to see.
So, to help you answer the question of to buy or not to buy, we’ve put together this list of the best Shakespeare plays to see in 2023. We’ve also thrown in some Shakespeare-themed experiences and tours to please the bard-core fans out there.
If you’re a theatre fan, why not take a look at the best West End shows to see in 2023, or find the best candlelight concerts to see this month? Plus, with the coronation quickly approaching, here are the best King Charles III coronation memorabilia.
Best Shakespeare plays and experiences at a glance:
- Stratford-upon-Avon Audio Walking Tour, £6.99
- The Merchant of Venice 1936 at the Swan Theatre, from £10
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe, from £12
- The Comedy of Errors at the Globe, from £12
- Macbeth at the Globe, from £12
- As You Like It at the Globe, from £12
- Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Guildhall Entry Ticket and Tour, £12
- Julius Caesar tour, from £15
- Richard III at Rose Theatre Kingston, from £18
- Shakespeare Distillery Tour, £18.17
- Backyard Cinema tickets, from £25
- Hamnet at the Garrick Theatre, from £30
- Shakespeare in the City Walking Tour for Two, £30
- Guided Tour of Shakespeare’s Globe and Afternoon Tea for Two, £112
- Shakespearean Cooking Experience, £118
Best Shakespeare plays in London to see in 2023
A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe
“Lord, what fools these mortals be.”
At the Globe from 27th April to 12th August 2023 is Shakespeare’s magical comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With its blending of the mortal world with the realm of fairies, this play is always an enchanting watch. Plus, it’s one of the original play within a plays and has a great cast of side characters.
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Buy A Midsummer Night’s Dream tickets from £12 at London Theatre Direct
The Comedy of Errors at the Globe
"I to the world am like a drop of water."
One of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, The Comedy of Errors is basically the story of the Parent Trap. Two twins are separated at birth by divorced parents and one day, when they end up in the same city, chaos ensues.
This year, The Comedy of Errors is coming to The Globe from 12th May to 29th July 2023 and tickets are on sale now at London Theatre Direct.
Buy The Comedy of Errors tickets from £12 at London Theatre Direct
Macbeth at the Globe
“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”
Macbeth tells the story of an overly ambitious man who seeks power and glory through any means necessary. With witches, murder and madness, Macbeth is one of the Bard’s darkest plays.
Macbeth is playing at Shakespeare’s Globe in London from 21st July to 28th October with prices starting from £12.
Buy Macbeth tickets from £12 at London Theatre Direct
Taking a loved one to see a Shakespeare play would be a brilliant birthday gift, and for more gift inspiration, take a look at the best experience birthday gifts and top London experience gifts.
As You Like It at the Globe
“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.”
As You Like It will be at the Globe from 18th August to 29th October 2023, with tickets currently on sale. Featuring some of the bard’s most famous lines, this comedy follows Rosalind and Orlando as they go on their troublesome love story.
Buy As You Like It tickets from £12 at London Theatre Direct
Richard III at the Rose Theatre
“A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”
At the Rose Theatre in Kingston, Bridgerton’s Adjoa Andoh has directed her own version of Richard III, the story of a twisted King. This adaption is set to put a modern twist on the classic tale and will reflect Andoh’s own upbringing in 1960’s rural England.
Ahead of the debut Andoh said: “My Richard is set apart from his family and his peers and ascribed a hateful personality reflecting the prejudice of the society around him. This fresh staging asks the question: What happens when the person who is punched down upon, punches up?”
The show is running from 26th April to 13th May 2023, with tickets starting from £18.
Buy Richard III tickets from £18 at London Theatre Direct
Hamnet at the Garrick Theatre
After a sold-out run in Stratford-upon-Avon, the hotly anticipated play Hamnet will be transferring to London’s Garrick Theatre. Running from 30th September 2023 to 6th January 2024, Hamnet tickets are now on sale from £30.
The play is based Maggie O’Farrell’s best-selling novel which tells the story of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway following the death of their son, Hamnet. Relatable and devastating, this play of parental grief is sure to be a hit.
Buy Hamnet tickets from Love Theatre
If you like a twist on classic literature, check out how to get Bleak Expectations tickets, the comedy based on Charles Dickens now in the West End.
More Shakespeare plays and other live experiences in 2023
Julius Caesar on tour
“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”
Julius Caesar is a tragedy about the life and death of, well, you know who. With perhaps some of Shakespeare’s most quoted lines and a ton of action, this is a standout play for this year.
The best bit is, Julius Caesar is going on tour. At the moment the play is in its first stint at Stratford-upon-Avon, But from 20th April to 24th June it’s going nationwide, with stops in nine cities including Truro, Newcastle, and York.
Buy Julius Caesar tour tickets from £15 at the Royal Shakespeare Company
The Merchant of Venice 1936 at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
“If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”
The Merchant of Venice 1936 is an incredible reimagining of the original tale. Starring Tracy-Ann Oberman as Shylock, the play is set in the middle of London as fascism starts to grow in Europe. At the same time, Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists plan a march through the Jewish East End. Poignant and important, this version of the famous tragedy is not one to miss.
The play is running in Stratford-upon-Avon’s Swan Theatre from 21st September to 7th October.
Buy The Merchant of Venice 1936 tickets from £10
Backyard Cinema's Romeo + Juliet
"But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun."
If you're not familiar with Backyard Cinema then it's about time you get acquainted. Swapping sticky floors with lavish decorations and endless adverts with a live orchestra, the Backyard Cinema is an incredible experience currently set at Alexandra Palace.
Visitors who go will be walking into the world of Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 film, Romeo + Juliet. This includes a room decorated with candlelight and stained glass windows, food and drinks themed around the tragic tale, and a live choir performing versions of the famous movie soundtrack.
Buy Backyard Cinema tickets from £25 at See Tickets
Shakespeare in the City Walking Tour for Two
If history’s more your thing than literature, you can honour the bard in another way by going on the Shakespeare in the City Walking Tour. With an expert guide, who was once a Shakespearian actor, you can follow the footsteps of the playwright as he lived in 16th century London and learn all about his works and troubled personal life.
Buy Shakespeare in the City Walking Tour for Two for £30 at Virgin Experience Days
Guided Tour of Shakespeare’s Globe and Afternoon Tea for two
For a behind-the-scenes look at one of London’s best landmarks, get this private tour of The Globe. In over 50 minutes, you’ll be immersed in the history of this iconic theatre and see where everything happens, from the prep to the performances. Then, you’ll be treated to an afternoon tea at the Swan restaurant, which gives you a gorgeous view of the South Bank.
Buy Guided Tour of Shakespeare’s Globe and Afternoon Tea for £112 at BuyaGift
Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Guildhall Entry Ticket and Tour
If you find yourself in Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, you can take a closer look at the bard’s childhood with a tour of his schoolroom and the Guildhall. The interactive experience lets you sit in the very room where Shakespeare studied as a boy, plus you can take part in a Tudor-style lesson and even dress up in period costume for a selfie.
Buy Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Guildhall Entry Ticket and Tour for £12 from Viator
Shakespearean Cooking Experience in Stratford-upon-Avon
Step back in time with this unique Elizabethan cooking experience set in Stratford-upon-Avon. You’ll get a taste of culture and history as well as food as you’re taught how to make a full meal. The menu includes pies, salmon, and shortbreads – all of which you’ll get to taste.
Buy Shakespearean Cooking Experience for £118 at Viator
Shakespeare Distillery Tour
Learn the secrets of gin making and find out how the spirits were produced in the Tudor period in this Shakespeare Distillery Tour. You’ll get to sample and discover the process of Stratford gin, and you can walk around the distillery at your leisure.
Buy Shakespeare Distillery Tour for £18.17 at Viator
Stratford-upon-Avon Audio Walking Tour
If you fancy taking the lead yourself, you can simply grab an audio guide and wander around Stratford-upon-Avon as you please. Put together by an expert literature historian, you’ll get information on all the town’s most iconic buildings and get a closer look into all the facets of Shakespeare’s life.
Buy Stratford-upon-Avon Audio Walking Tour for £6.99 at Viator
If RadioTimes.com be the food of love, read on, and find our guides on the best steam train experiences and the best London boat tours. Plus, you can find the latest Virgin Experience Days offers.
If you're looking for other elements of British culture to celebrate, check out our guide to the best Coronation souvenirs and memorabilia.