I took the theatre tour about several days ago and passed a thoroughly fascinating hour or so being shown around the bits of the theatre you never give much thought to. It was amazing to see the main theatre with Richard II having moved on and Wendy and Peter Pan about to move in - there it was all dishevelled and disorderly and drilling and hammering and everything going on, with a great hole at the front of the stage area. And then there was all the technology which the deputy stage manager needs to be in control of when a play is actually taking place and a trip to the makeup area where Antony (you know, Cleopatra's little playmate) had just arrived to have his hair sorted out.
And on top of all that, lots of nice anecdotes about the history of the theatre. Great stuff and well worth the cost of the tour. There was plenty of opportunity to ask questions.
A recent review (apparently now removed) seemed to think the whole place is a rip-off, but I don't agree. True, there are lots of temptations to spend money on in the gift shop but that is entirely a matter of choice. Myself, I just can't resist a little souvenir whenever I visit there, even if it's only a postcard or two. This theatre is iconic of course and any tourist in Stratford would be delighted to visit it and have a tour around it. If you visited Stratford and did not do so then it would be like visiting the Tower Of London and not going to see the Crown Jewels.
I think the theatre is wonderful in its magnificent high Art Deco style (funny to think that if the old one had not burned down when it did, the new theatre, when it eventually came along, would have looked wholly different. It's an ill wind....).
So 5 Tripadvisor spots for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre as an English tourist destination of the highest rank.
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