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Where to stream Shakespeare plays online

11 November 2020 by Sophie Thomas
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William Shakespeare

If lockdown be the food of quarantine, play on. As you’re probably well aware by now, the UK is going back into lockdown. While the full list of performances in 2020 may have shrunk ever so slightly, there’s still plenty of opportunities to satisfy your theatre thirst. As well as watching movie musicals, why not broaden your horizons and enjoy some Shakespeare. 

We’ve rounded up all the best ways to stream Shakespeare online in the UK. Complete with Shakespeare productions to suit any Bard purist, or wanting to see a Shakepearean-infused show, there’s something for everyone. 

Shakespeare Theatre Company

We all like to cheer on the good guys, but secretly, we all love a baddie too, right? In Patrick Page’s one-man show, he’ll explore how William Shakespeare invented the concept of a “villain”, reciting passages from Macbeth, Othello and Julius Caesar. The Tony Award-nominated actor recently starred in Hadestown, but now you can enjoy a solo “Page to Stage”.

The Shows Must Go On 

Since lockdown began in March 2020, the YouTube channel “The Shows Must Go On” has constantly been a source of theatrical entertainment for fans around the world. For their latest season, check out the Shakespeare Greats, starting off with Simon Callow’s Being Shakespeare, filmed at Trafalgar Studios in 2011. Then, there’s the nineties televised adaptation of Richard II, with Fiona Shaw wearing the monarch’s crown.

Later in the month, you’ll be able to relive Patrick Stewart’s career-defining Macbeth, filmed at the Gielgud Theatre. There’s also a series of Shakespeare sonnets being released on 23 November, with an all-star cast including David Tennant. 

Shakespeare’s Globe

All the world really is a stage for this renowned theatre. They’ve reopened their doors, albeit virtually, to keep entertaining the nation. This November, they’re sticking with the Halloween theme, with a collection of ghost stories sure to keep you up at night. Or, if you’re wanting to watch a full play, there’s a semi-staged reading of “that Scottish play” from 5 – 11 November. 

Globe Player

If you’re wanting even more from Shakespeare’s Globe, head on over to Globe Player. It’s their streaming service that’s jampacked with lots of free shows for anyone to stream. Delve into all the comedy, tragedy and history plays to your heart’s content, or watch some “Shakespeare Lives”, a series of film that reimagines his works for a modern audience.

Royal Shakespeare Company

Productions staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company are sadly unavailable on BBC iPlayer. But, don’t let that put you off watching some of the Bard’s plays. Marquee TV is a performing arts-based streaming services with an extensive catalogue of RSC productions. There’s 18 in total, and with a 14-day free trial when you sign up, gorge yourself on as much theatre as you possibly can. 

RSC productions currently available on Marquee TV include Hamlet, starring Paapa Esseidu, King Lear starring Antony Sher, Othello starring Lucian Msamati and The Tempest starring Simon Russell Beale.

Upstart Crow
David Mitchell in Upstart Crow (Photo courtesy of Upstart Crow)

Upstart Crow

David Mitchell made his West End debut in Upstart Crow at the Gielgud Theatre earlier this year. But, did you know it’s based on a television show that initially set out to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s passing. Binge-watch all three series of Upstart Crow on BBC iPlayer, starring Mitchell, Gemma Whelan, Helen Monks, Rob Rouse and Mark Heap.

Amazon Prime

The online streaming service is brimming with enough Shakespeare to last an entire lockdown. If you want our recommendations, we’d suggest Kenneth Branagh in Henry V and Christopher Eccleston in Othello. Go down the musical route too, with an adaptation of Kiss, Me Kate — the show is based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.

YouTube

Okay, so it might not be an official source of Shakespeare streams. But, there really is a treasure trove of videos to watch on YouTube. See incredible performances from British greats like Benedict Cumberbatch and Andrew Scott. Want to learn more about William Shakespeare’s writing? There’s accessible guides to his work too. Get online and explore all that the legendary writer’s life and career has to offer.