Sight ★★★



Shakespeare the way the Bard intended it

Attending a play at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London

If you saw Shakespeare in Love, you know what the rebuilt Globe Theatre looks like. Shakespeare was once part owner of, as well as performer in and main playwright for, a theater called The Globe at the Thames Bankside.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is a recently built replica of the half-timbered, thatched-roof, theatre-in-the-round, O-shaped building, with an open center and projecting stage, so that, for the first time since the Great Fire of 1666 burned all the old theaters down, you can listen to a Shakespearean-era performance in the sort of space for which his plays (and other Elizabethan entertainments) were written and staged.

Since it's outdoors, performances run May to October (though there are interior spaces for other shows during the inclement weather of London's winter). Tickets for seats run £15 to £33 ($30 to $66), but in the Bard’s day, anyone could attend a play for a penny—so long as they were willing be a “Groundling” and stand in the open yard around the shoulder-height stage.

Yard tickets still costs mere peanuts—though 400 years of inflation have raised the price to £5 ($10)—with the added plus that, with the actors running to and fro from the stage, Groundlings are often directly involved in the action (and, if it rains, you get a nifty souvenir slicker).

Even if you don't come for a play, at least visit the on-site museum and take a tour of the Globe. It's quite a spectacular reconstruction. Besides, it would make your old high school English teachers just so happy to know you made the effort.

21 New Globe Walk, Bankside
Tube: Mansion House, London Bridge, Southwark
tel. 020-7401-9919 for the box office; tel. 020-7902-1400 for info



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