The Macbeth witches cast their last spell and the right rollicking Cowbois rides into town in Stratford, while Hamnet captivates on the London stage.

This month we say goodbye to two productions in Stratford while saddling up for riotous new fun in the Swan Theatre, and at the end of October we usher in the start of the festive season in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre by opening a box of delights and wonder. In London theatres the two stories of young children inspire and break hearts.


The brutal and terrifying Wils Wilson production of Macbeth, with Valene Kane and Reuben Joseph as the murderous married pair, takes its final bow at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on 14 October. Limited tickets for Macbeth are still available here.

Merchant of Venice 1936

Meanwhile in the Swan Theatre, the highly demanded initial run of The Merchant of Venice 1936 leaves Stratford-upon-Avon on 7 October to continue its tour around the UK. If you missed it this time, there's another chance to see it in the New Year when it returns for three weeks. Featuring Tracy-Ann Oberman as the widow Shylock, a single mother and survivor of attacks on Jewish people in Russia, the play is set in Cable Street, London as the threat of fascism gathers strength. Act now to book tickets for Merchant of Venice 1936 at this link and avoid disappointment.

lady Macbeth and Macbeth embrace
Macbeth bids farewell on 14 October
Merchant of Venice social image
The Merchant of Venice 1936 concludes on 7 October but will return in January 2024
Photo by Marc Brenner © RSC Browse and license our images


In a sleepy town in the Wild West, the women are waiting for their missing husbands. When handsome bandit Jack Cannon swoops into town, their arrival inspires a gender revolution.

Written by Charlie Josephine, and co-directed by Charlie Josephine and Sean Holmes, this is a rollicking queer Western filled with joy and music. Book your tickets for Cowbois here.

For more information about themes and contents of this play, please see our content advisory page. 

Find out more

Cowbois explores themes of gender expression.For more information or support on this subject, we recommend Gendered Intelligence, a registered charity that works to increase understandings of gender diversity and improve the lives of trans people.

Cowbois promises to bring something you've never seen before. Hear the creative team talk about some of the influences and decisions that have created the production. Discussions about rehearsal room processes, design choices and characterisation all give a fascinating insight into the creative process.

The Cowbois Creative Team Talk takes place on 23 October at 5.15pm.

Two figures in Western dress on a sepia Wanted Poster style backdrop, with bullet holes surrounding them.
Sophie Melville (l) as Miss Lillian and Vinne Heaven (r) as Jack in Cowbois

Box of Delights

As the month closes, the festive season gets underway with the opening of our magical holiday offering of The Box of Delights, which starts in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on 31 October.

Orphaned schoolboy Kay Harker is given a small wooden box to guard, and he's about to discover it contains 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.

A magically festive production for all the family by Piers Torday, based on the novel by John Masefield and directed by Justin Audibert (The Taming of the Shrew 2019, The Jew of Malta 2015) with design by RSC Associate Artist Tom Piper. Tickets for Box of Delights are on sale here.

Callum Balmforth as Kay Harker learns the secrets of The Box of Delights this festive season

Matilda the Musical

In London, at the Cambridge Theatre, our multi award-winning Matilda The Musical delights with the tale of an extraordinary little girl with a vivid imagination. Inspired by the beloved story by Roald Dahl, with book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin, Matilda has been wowing audiences in London’s West End for over a decade and has won more than 100 international awards. Tickets for Matilda the Musical are now booking until next summer through this link.


Also playing in the West End, our adaptation of Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell’s best-selling novel adapted by award-winning playwright Lolita Chakrabarti (Life of Pi, Red Velvet, Hymn).

Young Latin tutor William's life is turned upside down when he meets enigmatic Agnes. Their love story navigates all that life has to offer, from the joy of marriage and parenthood to the searing pain of the loss of a beloved child. Book your tickets for Hamnet here.

The Empress

Also on the London stage, the intertwining stories of a 16 year old girl destined for a new life in a new world, and the fates of those she befriends on the voyage from India to England. A sweeping epic spanning 13 years of Britain's "Golden Era", The Empress transfers to The Lyric Hammersmith from 4 until 28 October. Tickets are available to book here.

The Empress 2023
Tania Katyal as Rani Das and Simon Rivers as Dadabhai Naoroji in The Empress
Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC Browse and license our images

Fun Palaces

Also this month, a day of free and fun events for all the family is on offer across Stratford for this year's Fun Palaces celebration of arts and culture on 7 October.

From magical story writing in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre to play and poetry readings and music workshops, there's lots to enjoy at venues across the town.

Find out more about the Fun Palaces event here.

Fun Palaces event_ Foundation House_ October 2021_2021_Photo by Sam Allard_ Fisher Studios _c_ RSC_320075

Make a night of it, RSC Style

Finally, if you are visiting one of our Stratford-upon-Avon venues, why not make a full evening of it by drinking and dining in our Rooftop Restaurant? Our newly announced Head Chef Iain Miller has just launched a seasonal pre-theatre 2 or 3 course menu and dessert menu, available throughout this autumn. Iain has previously worked at Simpsons of Birmingham and The Cross at Kenilworth, both Michelin-starred restaurants.

After dinner, before the show, follow your meal with a drink in our newly reopened Cocktail Bar. From Negronis to New York Sours, and all the classics in-between, our mixologists are ready to whet your whistle, just as you like it.

The Rooftop Restaurant's cocktail bar offers a variety of Martinis, classic cocktails and alcohol-free drinks
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