A play at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre ★★★

Groundlings pay just £5 to hear a play at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (seats start at £15) (Photo © Reid Bramblett)
Groundlings pay just £5 to hear a play at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (seats start at £15)

The play's the thing... to do at Shakespeare's Globe, a faithful recreation of a genuine Elizabethan theater in the round.

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 (1997) 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.

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).

Since this is an outdoor theater, performances run May to October. However, in 2014 they finally opened the adjacent Sam Wanamaker Playhouse to stage other shows and run during the inclement weather of London's winter. It, too, is based on the earliest indoor British theatre design available.

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