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The Merchant of Venice 1936, Criterion Theatre, 2024
Photo: Marc Brenner

Shakespeare plays in London

Comedies, tragedies and histories – catch them all in the Bard's spiritual home

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski
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Whether you’re planning a trip to the iconic Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, catching a production for the Royal Shakespeare Company or seeing a spot of Shakespearean drama elsewhere in London, here’s where to watch the biggest and best plays by the Bard in London.

Shakespeare plays in London this month

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Reframing ‘Othello’ as a police procedural in which Shakespeare’s Moorish general is a high-ranking officer at the Met is an inspired notion from director Ola Ince.

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  • Islington

Following her tremendous 2021 ‘Macbeth’ with Saoirse Ronan, South African director Yaël Farber returns to the Almeida with another of Shakespeare’s great tragedies. Danny Sapani stars as the mad monarch.

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Ralph Fiennes and Indira Varma star in this intimate production of Shakespeare’s tragedy, which has been touring warehouses across the country.

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  • Piccadilly Circus

A passion project for its star Tracy-Ann Oberman, ‘The Merchant of Venice 1936’ relocates Shakespeare’s controversial play to London, 1936 as the Jewish population and its allies confront the British Union of Fascists in the East End of London. 

Shakespeare plays coming soon

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As is now traditional at Shakespeare’s Globe, its outdoor programming gets underway with a truncated pre-season Shakespeare play aimed at schoolkids, but very much open to members of the public up for open-air theatre in March. This year it’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ that gets the 90-minute treatment, n a production that relocates the tale of the feuding Montagues and Capulets to contemporary gang culture.

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  • Wimbledon

Unstoppable acting legend Ian McKellen and revered director Robert Icke join forces for this incredibly exciting new show, Icke’s own adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Henry IV’ Parts 1 and 2 starring 84-year-old Sir Ian in the great role of dissolute knight John Falstaff. 

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The Globe’s 2024 season proper kicks off with one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, as the theatre's in-house director Sean Holmes helms ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Ekow Quartey and Amalia Vitale star as tempestuous lovers Beatrice and Benedick in an Elizabethan dress production of the play that we’re promised will turn the Globe into a ‘luxurious paradise’. 

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  • Regent’s Park

We know very little about the OAT’s production of Shakespeare’s beloved ‘serious comedy’, but it’ll be directed by RSC veteran Owen Horsley, and the blurb suggests it'll be drenching the story of Viola’s shipwrecked arrival in Illyria in some serious Mediterranean summer vibes (and thus technically relocating Illyria a few hundred miles south west).

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‘Richard III’ is a commonly staged play: the Globe last did it in 2019, and the last major London production before this one was Adjoa Andoh’s, which came to Richmond in 2023. However, this production from Elle While has already sparked considerable backlash for the casting of Globe boss Michelle Terry in the role of the villainous monarch, on the grounds that she’s an able-bodied actor and the character as written is disabled…

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Having directed a couple of shows in the Sam Wanamaker, hip director Jude Christian makes the leap to the main Globe theatre for the first time as she tackles a typically thorny play; Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’. 

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‘The Comedy of Errors’ can sometimes feel like a less successful dry run for the more grown-up ‘Twelfth Night’, both being twin sibling-based mistaken identity comedies set in coastal cities.

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The unexpected furor over Michelle Terry playing Richard III has somewhat overshadowed the fact that Shakespeare’s Globe has a disabled lead for one of its big productions this summer, in the form of Nadia Nadarajah. 

Your vote: The top ten Shakespeare plays

A guide to Shakespeare's Globe

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