London is currently the undisputed Shakespeare capital of the world according to the new issue of Shakespeare Magazine

The latest issue of Shakespeare Magazine is now available completely free.

London calling cover
Yes, that’s right. The fourth issue of Shakespeare Magazine celebrates Shakespeare’s London (with guest appearances from Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Shakespeare in Love). Also this issue: Shakespeare in the mountains of California, New York’s Shakespeare rapper and a plethora of Shakespeare Disasters.

Read Issue 04 of Shakespeare Magazine here.

“God save King Richard!” David Hywel Baynes is a compelling, multi-layered villain in Iris Theatre’s outdoor Richard III in London’s Covent Garden


When I arrive in St Paul’s courtyard my heart sinks. The few benches are soaked through from a recent downpour, and the cut-up pallets that serve for further seating are worse. At this point it’s going to take a miracle to warm me up to this production.
As it turns out, a cup of tea and a cheerful cry of “Come sit, sit! I’ve got paper towels!” serve just as well.
Daniel Winder’s choice to ground Richard III in the tetralogy by staging the final scene of Henry VI, Part 3 works surprisingly well. It provides necessary context, but also delays the iconic “Now is the winter of our discontent” speech and thus prevents the audience from settling in to an old favourite too comfortably – Iris keeps you on your toes from the get go.

Richard III DHB
The audience becomes a part of the company as we’re ushered from one well-designed space to the next – we are courtiers, soldiers, conspirators, witnesses. This production of Richard III, a play that always toys with an audience’s conscience, amplifies our guilty complicity by having us follow Richard from place to place like sheep. We march to Bosworth Field on our own two feet, we follow Richard and Richmond into battle, and we’re not entirely sure whose side we’re on.

Richard III king and queens
The production is polished, the company is strong, and the location is perfectly suited. Characters wave towards the church’s grand doors as they speak of the tower and we believe them entirely. A cry from the marketplace could be a rowdy solider in a neighbouring tent.
But David Hywel Baynes’s Richard overshadows it all. He is mercurial, cunning, charming, repellent – and all of these in a breath. He plays the anti-hero with such conviction that when the church rings with the cry “God save King Richard!” you’re torn between joining in and running to join the revolt.

richard III mad
In conversation after the show Baynes cites Mark Rylance as an influence. Lauding Rylance’s ‘Globe technique’, he humbly hopes he’s adopted some of the elder actor’s techniques for engaging an outdoor theatre audience. An even greater influence though is Dan, the director. “He’s always pushing me further,” Baynes says, smiling fondly, “Making me the best I can be.”

Richard III and queen
The genuine camaraderie in the company shows in their refined production, so I believe it when everyone I talk to, Baynes and Joel Mellinger (Hastings) in particular, tells me the company’s creativity is aided by its closeness.
“This is my first time with Iris,” says Joel, “but they’re like a family.” Entirely separately David, an old hand with Iris, says “I never met Joel before this production, but he’s like a brother.”

Richard III edward IV and queen
Yes, there was drizzle, yes, the sound effects sometimes jarringly miss their cue, and yes, your fellow audience member’s “Oh, I’m so terribly sorry!” as they step on your foot yanks you from your happy courtier fantasy. But despite all that, this is immersive Shakespeare at its very best – and the freshest Richard I’ve seen in years.

Richard III sword queen
Iris Theatre’s Richard III runs until 25 July. Book your tickets here.

Shakespeare’s Complete Sonnets at London’s South Bank

Shakespeare sonnet star Simon Russell Beale.

Shakespeare sonnet star Simon Russell Beale.

On Sunday 1 June, London’s famous South Bank Centre will sees a complete reading of every one of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets. In the evening the sonnets will be read at the Royal Festival Hall by some of the world’s finest actors and poets, led by Simon Russell Beale and Harriet Walter. Part One of the event runs from 5pm-6.30pm with Part Two running from 7.15pm-9pm.

Plus, in preparation for the evening’s star-studded readings, The People’s Sonnets will see sonnets popping up around the South Bank Centre site for free throughout the day in various outdoor locations. They are read by children, mums, dads, grandmas and anyone else who loves Shakespeare and his sonnets.

Tickets for the event are on sale now priced £10-£25. Go here to book your tickets.

Win! Tickets for Richard III in Covent Garden!

Iris Theatre returns for a sixth year of its celebrated summer season in the gardens of St Paul’s Church in London’s historic Covent Garden. This year they’re presenting a new outdoor production of Shakespeare’s Richard III which runs from 25 June until 25 July.

And excitingly, Shakespeare Magazine has FIVE pairs of tickets to give away.

Richard III ad - comp

Four winners will each get pairs of tickets for performances between Wednesday 25 June and Saturday 28 June.

And one overall winning pair will get to join Iris Theatre for press night on Monday 30 June, including interval wine and nibbles with the Iris team, and a signed programme!

To be in with a chance of winning, simply send an email to shakespearemag@outlook.com with RICHARD in the subject line.

Very best of luck!

More on Iris Theatre and Richard III here.