“Much Ado About Nothing” – William Shakespeare.
When I finally rolled by train into Stratford Upon Avon, I was in for a treat. I was actually in Shakespeare’s Town finally. It was February 2022 and I attempted to put the past behind me. The first thing you should know is that Shakespeare’s Town, Stratford Upon Avon totally befits the man himself. I was also here on the 22.02.2022 and that evening at 22.02 I was watching a William Shakespeare play. Plus, 22 is my lucky number in life. I will need to write about the number 22 and how it influences my life someday. But Shakespeare in Shakespeare Town? This is living the dream.
“Gentlemen both, we will not wake your patience” – Don Pedro (Much Ado About Nothing).
It’s a pretty town. The streets are old and traditional, there are William Shakespeare references everywhere, there are sights aplenty – both related to William and unrelated to him too!
Oh, and it’s decent for a pub crawl, too. Remarkably brilliant.
“There is not chastity enough in language without offence to utter them” – Don John (Much Ado About Nothing).
I checked into a cool little pub/inn called The Queen’s Head and I was in room 5, a perfect headrest place for my time in this famous town.
I was here on a night when the town’s exquisite Royal Shakespeare Theatre had a Shakespeare play on. I mean, in the circle of life, this is actually as good as it gets. I was actually quite lucky with it all as I only set aside one night here, Tuesday 22nd February 2022. On that night, there was a live casting of Much Ado About Nothing.
“Better a witty fool than a foolish wit” – William Shakespeare (Twelfth Night).
In my youth, at school and tech, I had studied Billy S. The plays that were most vivid and memorable in my mind were A Winter’s Tale, Macbeth, Hamlet and Anthony and Cleopatra. Tonight though, Much Ado About Nothing was a new one on me and the this befitted the journey just that little bit more. A new Shakespeare for me, here in the town where it all began. There was a magical quality on the air here, I had so many inspiring moments here and it will have to feature in a future book.
“There’s something magic in the air” – Tim Wheeler (Ash).
Before the play started, I had already done my purchasing. I bought a ticket for the play – stalls seat, near the front, well priced at £30. I bought some souvenirs – postcards, badges, plus the programme for the play and the revised text of Much Ado About Nothing. I started to read the play before it even began – reading it in a pub!
On the day, I actually toured a lot of the town, from early doors. I stayed at the Queen’s Head Inn, in downtown Stratford Upon Avon and I visited Shakespeare’s birthplace, his school, his house, his museum, his statue, his church and his grave.
I arrived at the venue about 20 minutes before the play began. COVID restrictions had begun to ease so I didn’t have to be mask loyal. The theatre was packed. It’s also the finest theatre I’ve been in, even though I’ve backpacked a lot of theatres and even worked in one. Reminders of friend, former classmate, partner in crime (“The Great Exam Heist“) and professional playwright Paddy Campbell flashed back as I scanned my ticket to get in.
Sadly I was alone. I wasn’t elegantly dressed or with a young damsel. This would have been a date of dates.
On the way to taking my seat, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that not only was crafted ale for sale but I could take it in with me. I say.
When I took my seats, I was close to a fine young couple who I had met earlier on my heritage trail, and again on the pub crawl – Stanley and Emma. I drank Longhorn Unfiltered IPA.
The scene was all set and the flamboyant play began. The venue was packed, hardly any empty seats. This is Shakespeare in Shakespeare Town. It reminded me of…some of this magic…
My Tour of The Beatles Museum in Liverpool, England
My Tour The Football Museum in Montevideo, Uruguay
My Trip To The Greenwich Time Centre Where Time All Began, England (unwritten yet)
My Visit To The home of the Penalty Kick in Milford, Northern Ireland
My Trip to the Solidarność centre in Gdańsk, Poland (unwritten yet)
The Paddy Campbell Reunion in Newcastle, England
It’s always nice to experience something in the place which is home to that something. On interval, the bar queue was surprisingly short so I purchased another crafted ale to consume for the culmination.
After the play, I headed with Stanley and Emma for beers at The Dirty Duck. Some of the cast came in here post-play. We thanked them for their star performance but didn’t dwell for autographs and photos.
All that’s left to say is do it. This was a high. This was the dream. To watch a Shakespeare in Shakespeare Town? Give me a call if life gets any better than that.
“We’re an all time high” – Rita Coolidge.
“All’s well that ends well” – William Shakespeare.
Here are the details for booking a Shakespeare play in Stratford Upon Avon, Shakespeare Town, England:
You can contact the Box Office team on 01789 331111, from midday to 6pm (UK time) Monday to Friday. You can also email the Box Office at [email protected]
Royal Shakespeare Company
Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Royal Shakespeare Theatre on Social media
Here are some videos of my time in Stratford Upon Avon, England: