Acting Artistic Director Erica Whyman's final season of work at the RSC includes two magical new productions and the return of an Elizabethan classic.

Public booking is now open for our Winter 2023-24 shows: 

  • The Box of Delights: Justin Audibert directs this fantastical adaptation of the much-loved children’s novel by John Masefield

  • The Fair Maid of the West: Olivier award-winning playwright Isobel McArthur makes her RSC debut with a rollicking new adaptation of Thomas Heywood’s Elizabethan romp

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Eleanor Rhode returns to direct William Shakespeare’s pastoral tale to brighten up the dark winter evenings

  • Ben and Imo: The world stage premiere of Mark Ravenhill’s two-handed play directed by Erica Whyman will open in the Swan Theatre

  • The Merchant of Venice 1936: Featuring Tracy-Ann Oberman as Shylock, this production returns to the Swan Theatre for a limited run following a sold-out tour

  • Romeo and Juliet: First Encounters with Shakespeare brings a 90-minute re-imagining of the star-crossed lovers, directed by Philip J Morris for 8-13 year olds and their families

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The Box of Delights

Our festive offering in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre this winter, Piers Torday’s magical reimagining of John Masefield’s much-loved festive children’s 1935 classic The Box of Delights will run from Tuesday 31 October 2023 until Sunday 7 January 2024. 

After a seemingly chance encounter on a train, orphaned schoolboy Kay Harker finds himself the guardian of a small wooden box with powers beyond his wildest dreams. 

Caught up in a battle between two powerful magicians, Kay fights to save not just the people he loves but also the future of Christmas itself.  

Newly appointed Chichester Festival Theatre Artistic Director Justin Audibert (The Taming of the Shrew, 2019, The Jew of Malta, 2015) returns to the RSC to direct this fantastical tale. 

Design will come from RSC Associate and Olivier award-winning Tom Piper, who most recently created the sets for the RSC’s productions of Hamnet in the Swan Theatre and The Tempest in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Spring 2023. 

more about The Box of Delights

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The Fair Maid of the West

In the Swan Theatre, Olivier award-winning playwright Isobel McArthur makes her RSC debut directing and adapting Thomas Heywood’s Elizabethan comedy-romp The Fair Maid of the West, from Saturday 2 December 2023 – Sunday 14 January 2024.  

Isobel’s five-star West End adaptation of the classic novel Pride & Prejudice* (*sort of) was awarded Best Entertainment or Comedy Play in the 2022 Oliviers and is now touring the UK.

The Fair Maid of the West is a celebratory, music-filled, ensemble comedy focusing on the life-saving powers of community, compromise and compassion.

Liz Bridges might seem ordinary, but it turns out that a life spent lending ears, mending hearts and serving beers has all been in preparation for the ultimate test of her character...  Who knew that breaking up bar brawls would be such good training for international diplomacy? 

Join us at the pub – where the heroes are local and the locals are all heroes. Especially in those moments when all our happy hours seem to be behind us. 

more about The Fair Maid of the West

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A Midsummer Night's Dream brightens the dark winter nights from 30 January
The Merchant of Venice 1936 returns to The Swan from 25 January

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

In January, Eleanor Rhode (King John) returns with a new production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

“The course of true love never did run smooth.”

Let Shakespeare’s captivating comedy, where the real and fairy worlds collide, transport you from deepest midwinter to the most magical of midsummer nights from Tuesday 30 January to Saturday 30 March 2024.

Read more about A Midsummer Night's Dream

The Merchant of Venice 1936

Meanwhile, in the Swan Theatre, Tracy-Ann Oberman’s gripping adaptation of The Merchant of Venice 1936 returns from Wednesday 24 January to Saturday 10 February 2024 following a sold-out season in Autumn 2023. 

Presented by Watford Palace Theatre in association with HOME Manchester and developed with support from the Royal Shakespeare Company, the production is directed and adapted by Brigid Larmour from an idea by Tracy Ann-Oberman and co-created by them both.

Read more about The Merchant of Venice

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Ben and Imo

Making its stage premiere in the Swan Theatre from Wednesday 21 February – Saturday 6 April 2024, Mark Ravenhill’s new play Ben and Imo tells the story of the creative relationship between composer Benjamin Britten and Imogen Holst, daughter of Gustav and an accomplished musician in her own right. 

Set in 1953 in the lead up to Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, Britten has just nine months to write a new opera about her predecessor Elizabeth I.  

Into the world of the disheartened composer enters the exuberant and passionate Imogen Holst, daughter of Gustav and an accomplished musician in her own right. Her candid and can-do attitude proves to be the perfect foil for the weary Britten, and turns into a bond that not only sees Gloriana to its premiere but endures throughout the rest of their lives. 

Mark Ravenhill (The Boy in The Dress, Candide) first created Ben and Imo as a radio play, and now adapts it for the stage directed by Erica Whyman (Hamnet, Romeo and Juliet 2018, Miss Littlewood).

More about Ben and Imo

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First Encounters: Romeo and Juliet

Following the success of last year’s sell out production of Twelfth Night, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s First Encounters With Shakespeare series returns with a new reimagining of Romeo and Juliet. This 90-minute version of the tragedy uses an edited version of the original language to create the perfect first introduction for young people aged 8-13 and their families.   

This production will tour to schools and theatres around the country during the Spring of 2024 and will visit the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon from Thursday 21 – Saturday 30 March 2024.

Directed by Philip J Morris, the Artistic Director of Trybe House Theatre, a company who work primarily with young black men to share their diverse range of stories within the wider community. Philip was formerly a Trainee Director at the Royal Court Theatre and was Senior Youth Theatre Director at the Birmingham REP.

more about the First Encounters Romeo and Juliet

Audience photos_ July 2015._2015_Photo by David Tett _c_ RSC_167896
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