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Shakespeare’s Globe, Midnight Matinée
Photograph: Shakespeare’s Globe

What’s the deal with… the Globe’s midnight matinées?

The booziest, Bardiest night in London theatre is back at Shakespeare’s Globe

By Andrzej Lukowski

So it’s watching a play, only it starts at midnight?

Yup! Each summer a selection of the shows in the Shakespeare’s Globe summer season do a single performance that begins at midnight.

Is it a matinée if it’s at midnight?

Well, it officially starts at 11.59pm (presumably to stop people turning up on the wrong day) but as the entire play takes place in the early hours of the morning it is surely closer to the original French meaning of ‘matinée’? It’s also a tidy piece of alliteration, plus it doesn’t really matter.

What’s the vibe like?


How drunk?

Modestly so for 2am in London on a Saturday night, but quite a lot for a trip to the theatre. The bar stays open until the interval and – hashtag lifehack – you can always BYOB at the Globe so long as you don’t have glass bottles. Based on this writer’s observations, the crowd starts off merry and ends up respectfully rowdy.

Is it a tribute to original Shakespearean practices?

Absolutely not. If you went out at midnight in sixteenth-century Southwark, you took your life in your hands. It was something former Globe boss Mark Rylance introduced 16-ish years ago as a bit of fun, and it has just stuck.

So what’s on?

For 2020 the line-up will be ‘Twelfth Night’ (Friday June 12), ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ (Friday August 14) and the Globe on Tour production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (Friday September 18).

Why would I actually want to see a play at midnight?

Because it’s a great London experience that everyone should do at least once, because the Globe’s rowdy house style is perfectly suited to the timeslot, and because have you tried going clubbing in central London recently?

Is it expensive?

It’s not – it’s just regular Globe prices, meaning that, yes, all standing tickets are £5. It’s a little more if you want to sit, but there’s no late-night premiums. Bring a four-pack with you and you’ve got probably the cheapest night out in London.

Amazing! Maybe all plays should be staged at midnight?

Well, that would probably be a logistical, financial and artistic disaster, but hopefully the Globe will continue to uphold this thoroughly noble tradition for years to come.

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