Find out what’s on this season and next at Stratford-on-Avon, from the dramatic Coriolanus to festive classic A Christmas Carol
If more proof were needed that the plays of Shakespeare, written 400-odd years ago with ink and parchment, were still relevant in the digital world, the RSC would be it
Since the recently deceased Sir Peter Hall founded the company in 1961, aged just 30, The Royal Shakespeare Company has performed all of Shakespeare’s plays, expanded to inhabit three theatres in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon and had names such as David Tennant and Judi Dench play its headline roles.Shakespeare is not the only playwright on the bill though. The Company stays true to Hall’s founding tenet of performing new work, too. The autumn 2017 season is no different, with two contrasting Shakespeare plays, one by the Bard’s were-they-weren’t-they rival Christopher Marlowe and a festive new adaptation of festive favourite, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Read on to see what’s in store and to save on tickets…
A Christmas Carol
27 November 2017 – 4 February 2018
Perhaps Dickens’ best-loved tale has been rewritten for the stage by David Edgar, who won multiple awards for his two-part version of Nicholas Nickleby (also for the RSC).
In A Christmas Carol the penny-pinching businessman Ebenezer Scrooge refuses invitations to Christmas dinners and only allows his assistant Bob Crachit to take Christmas Day off because it is in line with custom. But, three ghosts who visit on Christmas Eve with visions of Scrooge’s past, present and future, seek to change his miserly view.
Edgar’s new adaptation is directed by Rachel Kavanagh, who brings sparkle fresh from West End success with her award-winning musical Half A Sixpence. Phil Davies, whom many will recognise as the hapless manservant from the BBC series of Poldark, leads.
Until 14th October 2017
This beefy, bloody rendition of Shakespeare’s play about Coriolanus, a revered warrior but uncertain peacetime leader, continues the RSC’s Roman plays season directed by Angus Jackson.
Having taken charge of a new city state after months at war, Coriolanus must struggle with his own character – and his overbearing mother – to lead from the front politically as well as he did militarily.
Sope Dirisu takes on the armour of Coriolanus (based on a Roman general whose life is recorded in Plutarch) in a play which promises, according to one review, ‘thrilling hand-to-hand combat’ and even features a fork-lift truck.
2nd November 2017 - 24th February 2018
Few lines of Shakespeare have been as often quoted as the Duke Orsino’s opening to Twelfth Night: ‘If music be the food of love, play on,’ he says wistfully. The sombreness doesn’t last long, however, in this comedy of disguised siblings and mistaken identities.
Viola and Sebastian are twins separated during a shipwreck. Viola dresses herself as a boy for protection but soon falls for Orsino, who she comes to be employed by. Cue the entrance of Sebastian, which mixes everything up.
In the RSC’s new production Christopher Luscombe directs, with Kara Tointon (of ITV’s Mr Selfridge and Strictly Come Dancing fame) and Adrian Luscombe (well known for roles in The Young Ones and the 1980s film Supergrass) starring.
Dido, Queen of Carthage
Until 28 October 2017
The RSC’s fresh production of Christopher Marlowe’s first play (originally performed in 1587) has been heralded as the company’s “best show of the year” (The Daily Telegraph). Directed by rising star Kimberley Sykes, the play tells the story of Dido and the tragic repercussions of her love for Venus’ son, Aeneas, who arrives fresh on her island from the Trojan War.
Intended as a counterpoint to the Angus Jackson’s Coriolanus – also part of the company’s Roman plays season – Dido, Queen of Carthage celebrates the plight of a strong woman against the sometimes divine forces that conspire to prevent her from following her passion. For the full experience, see both.