Going to a school nearby, I have visited the theatre on numerous occasions and sat in many different places, viewing a wide range of shows. I believe I am quite familiar with the layout of the theatre, and so believe I can honestly say that it is definitely an experience I would recommend you have. While the downside is that when sitting on the very top levels, the seating is more of a perch on a bench than a real seat, the shows themselves are always spectacular, which one would expect from such a high rate theatre company. The entrance to the theatre itself is one of the highlights, where in the foyer and gift shop, there is always an abundance of fantastic costumes used in previous productions on display. To see the craft and workmanship that goes into these costumes is in itself a fabulous experience. Because the layout of the theatre, is that of a thrust stage, on many occasions you may well be sitting behind a pillar, or in a position that does not allow you to see fully what is happening 100% of the time, however this should not detract from the overall experience, and will certainly not stop you from watching most of the action unfold on stage. Although many productions are put on throughout the season, I would always recommend that you see one of the Shakespeare productions they show, as they are always of a high quality, and for many of their shows, the set and costume used is exquisite! Definitely a worth while trip to have.
Have gone to other theatres in the past but not for about 5 years so can only really comment on The Courtyard Theatre that I have attended recently and will be again a further three times before the year is out.
I went to see Hamlet last month and I am the first to sadly admit more for David Tennant than anything else! However I have never really wanted to see Hamlet, mainly for the length.
The production was amazing regardless of David Tennant and Patrick Stewart performing. I found myself falling in love with Shakespear all over again, something I never really lost but have neglected over the last 5 or 6 years.
The theatre itself is beautiful and the seats are very comfortable to begin with, I was sat in the stalls at the side near the back row. I say to begin with more to do with the fact it was over 2 hours once I had sat down before I was able to move again!
The theatre offers free tours during the daytime across the week and is something I hope to do before I return in October. Whilst booking tickets to A Midsummer Night's Dream I discovered that child seats are half price! I also noticed something about cheap seats for 16-25 year olds but I did not look into it so I am not too sure how it works.
They also offer cheaper seat performances for the first few days of a production so it is always worth having a look out for those. The website has changed over the last few months and when you book online you can now choose and see where you will be sitting on a map.
The people in the gallery appeared to be leaning over looking down on the stage and I did wonder if they had a good view. When purchasing my tickets they mentioned it was restricted view, this is because of the colums but it did not hinder my view at any point, the most I had to do was lean to the other side a few times!
On the night of the production it is worth pre-paying/ordering your intermission drinks as they then have them ready on a table at the side of the bar and it saves you queuing. It is also worth visiting the shop before the play or during the break as it was closed when the play finished.
As for parking I was lucky enough to park on the street the theatre is on and it is free to park there after 6pm but there are carparks nearby.
Like most I was introduced to Shakespeare at school and enjoyed it enough to take enough interest to go to the occasional play. Now these were usually fine, but I always had a hankering to go and see it in Stratford, basically to see if there was anything noticeably better in a Royal Shakespeare Company production. Now, it is surprisingly difficult to get tickets for any play, I tried a few times until I managed to get seats for a play that I wanted to see on a night which was convenient. I suspect that many of the tickets are sold to tour companies months in advance, so that they can offer tours with a theatre ticket. There are three theatres, the Swan, the Globe and the other place. They all show varied plays so you are not restricted to Shakespeare. Although in theory it looks that varied ticket prices are available I found it impossible to get anything less than the full price ticket- paying £37 for one play was a bit excessive, but I thought it would be worth it for the experience. I would imagine you would have to book months in advance to get a reasonably priced ticket. However, there is an alternative, cheap tickets are available on the door before the performance. I think they cost £5 and are standing room only. There is a barrier for leaning against. A certain amount of tickets are kept back for every performance, so if you turn up early enough you can just about guarantee a viewing. The fact that you don't have a seat should be looked upon as a blessing, not a hinderance as I have never been so uncomfortable in a theatre in my life. The legroom is appalling. I felt absolutely crushed and had to take my shoes off for the extra few inches space it gave. Now I am pretty big anyway, but I would say that anybody who is over about 5'8 is going to be very uncomfortable, and regardless of how good the performance is, being uncomfortable will certainly mar it. The seats right in front of the stage are the worst, I believe that
you could end up hospitalised after the performance. Deep Vein Thrombosis is not limited to airlines! However I only visited 'The Swan' so I can't comment on the other Theatres.(The 'RST' and 'The Other Place' Now the standard of the play was excellent, the acting and staging was superb and much better than anything I had seen before. The verse was naturally spoken and the ease of the performers made is easy to follow a style of language which is not common to us today. The theatre was not particularly large so you felt a certain intimacy with the situation - it should go without saying, but no microphones were used or necessary. The setting was quite minimalist (Henry IV part 2) but that added, not detracted from the performance. So would I recommend it?, not really, the productions are splendid, but the uncomfortable seating, difficulty of getting tickets and the sheer expense of the ticket put me off. If I was around Stratford I would certainly go for a last minute ticket and as the RSC regularly tour the sticks I would go to a local performance. But I wouldn't book in advance for a performance again.