Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."

So reads the script on John Byrne's beautiful painting which adorns the inner dome of the King's Theatre. The line comes from Shakespeare's comedy As You Like It, a play full of double and triple identities. A woman pretends to be a man - and then pretends to be a woman! And remember, the actor playing the woman would originally be a man.
Confused? Shakespeare's works thrive on multiple identities, so in honour of his birthday, here's our Top Five Shows that have re-imagined Shakespeare on our stages.


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The National Theatre's Macbeth


Rufus Norris's 2018 National Theatre production of "the Scottish play" was panned by the critics - but adored by audiences! Norris set this dark work in a dystopian future where the natural environment has been destroyed and feuding tribes battle for survival - "Mad Max" style!

While some audiences prefer more traditional stagings, it is a credit to Shakespeare that his works have been successfully set everywhere from underwater to outer space! Which brings us to our next show...


Imagine Shakespeare in a 1950s outer space film, and you've got Return to the Forbidden Planet, billed as "Shakespeare's forgotten rock and roll masterpiece." A cult and Fringe hit that went on to the West End and around the world, this ultra-silly fun-filled musical is based on Shakespeare's The Tempest.

The Tempest is thought to be Shakespeare's final work, and (spoiler alert!) ends with the sorcerer Prospero saying farewell to his magical island. Who would have known that hundreds of years later Shakespeare's magical creations would still be vibrantly alive on our stages?

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Return to the Forbidden Planet, based on The Tempest


Merely Theatre actually take their name from the very quote inscribed on the King's Dome.

A 2016 visit showcased their incredible youthful energy, as they performed a double-bill of both Henry V and A Midsummer Night's Dream - all with a cast of just 5 young actors, straight out of university. Sound too easy? They changed roles each night!

Imagining the Hundred Years War as a football match between France and England, Merely Theatre injected Henry V with an invigorating energy and palpable excitement.


Propeller was one of our audiences' most beloved theatre companies, as they brought Shakespeare's plays to life with incredibly creative theatricality. They brought their acclaimed production of A Midsummer Night's Dream to the King's in 2014 to rave reviews and standing ovations.

Propeller was an all-male theatre company, just like Shakespeare's original company, a taboo that is explored in our final pick...


Not strictly a Shakespeare play, but a love letter to that wonderful writer who we still celebrate today. The 2018 production at the King's, based on the hit film, follows a woman who pretends to be a man - just like in As You Like It!

With all these varied productions, we hope you can experience Shakespeare "as you like it" - because there's so many ways to enjoy his brilliant work.


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Shakespeare in Love

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