Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Joy S on June 13, 2012

The theatre is easy to find on the Southbank of the Thames, not far from the Millennium Bridge and the Tate Modern. It is good for adults and children alike to get a glimpse of Elizabethan London. The theatre was recently reconstructed and built with materials and techniques from that time.

It is open every day between 10am and 5pm. In winter, guided tours are offered every day. From May to September, which is their theatre season, tours are only available in the mornings. The entrance, which includes the tour costs £13.50 for adults and £8.00 for children. It is not really suitable for very young children - at 8, I think our son was as young as I would go for this.

The tour does not need to be pre-booked. You can buy your ticket at the admission desk, they never sell out apparently. The tours last about half an hour and run constantly. We arrived at 11:25 and still got to go on the 11:30 tour on a Saturday morning.

Our tour guide was very informed and informative. The tour was really interesting, although to be honest, I thought she was just a little too bossy. She informed us at the beginning that we were not to take photos while she was speaking as it would be too off-putting for her. She told us in no uncertain terms where we could sit, and if anyone wandered even a little way from the group, they were briskly reminded to return. That said though, I did very much enjoy the tour.

Shakespeare's Globe was one of the most important public theatres ever built and he premiered many of his most famous plays here. The American film-maker Sam Wannamaker worked for 20 years to raise funds to recreate this theatre as it existed in Elizabethan times. The building is not on the original site of the Globe, though this is not far away. Apparently a listed building exists on the exact site and they were not allowed to pull it down, so used this site instead. It is a beautiful location though - right on the edge of the Thames.

The building has a thatched roof. This is the first new thatched roof in the city of London, since the Great Fire of London in 1666. The roof has been specially treated with a fire retardant and the spikes on top of it are powerful water sprays, should they be needed. The theatre and seating are beautiful. The roof covers the seated area, but in the standing area around the stage, it is completely open to the elements. Everything is made of oak and the decorative paintings on the stage and in the gentlemen's boxes are wonderful.

The theatre season here runs from May to September. The performances are critically acclaimed and sell out. They use only natural light, no microphones and the minimum of scenery - just as in the times of Shakespeare. The theatre is not an exact replica, it seats 1,500 and not 3,000 as in the early 1600's. You do get a wonderful feel for what it must have been like there in those days though.

The plays last around 3 hours, they rent cushions for the seats, but in the standing area you have to stand - exposed to the elements as well!

After the tour, you can have a look at the exhibition. It is very interesting and tells the story of the Globe's construction and craftmanship. There is a lot to read, our 8 year old was not that impressed, but they do have some interactive exhibits.

There is a little shop selling high quality souvenirs. This place is a charity and receives no government funding, so all money they raise on the tours, in the shop etc. and ticket sales goes directly to the theatre and keeping it open. There is a bar/restaurant and also a lovely little cafe selling delicious home-made food. We had lovely vegetable soup and sandwiches - I would definitely recommend eating here. The only downside was the distinct lack of seating area to eat your food - it was cramped to say the least.

The Globe is a wonderful and educational place to visit. As well as the half hour tour, we spent about an hour exploring the self-guided exhibition. The tour also goes on whatever the weather - if it is raining, you do spend a lot of it in the open-air, so come prepared!
Shakespeare's Globe
21 New Globe Walk, Bankside
London, England, SE1 9DT
+44 20 7902 1400

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