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“Shakespeare as it was intended”

American Shakespeare Center
Ranked #1 of 35 things to do in Staunton
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Blackfriars Playhouse is the world's only re-creation of Shakespeare's indoor theatre. "Stunning", says Frommer's. Located in historic downtown Staunton, VA, this 300-seat Renaissance theatre offers productions of Shakespeare and classic plays year round that the Washington Post says are "shamelessly entertaining" and the Boston Globe says are "phenomenal...bursting with energy”.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
51 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
“Shakespeare as it was intended”
Reviewed August 17, 2008

Wow! I'm not a Shakespeare fan, but my wife is. However, I had a fantastic time, and my wife was just amazed at seeing the Bard performed in this element.

Blackfriar's takes the plays and uses the original stage direction to show them without major scenery and extensive props. Basic items like chairs and handheld items are used with brilliant costumes to provide just enough input for the viewer to fill in the rest with their imagination. The actors are superb and the minimalist sets keep the dialogue and brilliant writing in the forefront, where it should be.

We saw "Measure for Measure," a lesser-known work, and it was brilliant. We paid for the general seating and didn't see the need to pay the higher price at all. This is a very small and intimate venue, so you never feel like you're far from the action.

Every Shakespeare fan in Jolly Olde England should be jealous.

1 Thank Jawsh71
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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703 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Colorado Springs
Level Contributor
67 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 138 helpful votes
“From age 11 to 67, we all loved Blackfriars!”
Reviewed July 20, 2008

The Blackfriars Playhouse was a wonderful experience - I'm so thrilled that we stumbled upon their website!

We were staying at the Massenutten resort, which was about a 45 minute drive through beautiful Virginia farm land.

I booked my tickets in advance for "Twelfth Night" by phoning their ticket box office. They offer a AAA discount that is only available with phone orders. Our tickets were "will call" and we had no problems picking them up.

They don't have their own parking but there is a public lot on the corner of Beverely street. The town of Staunton does a great job of directing you to tourist locations. There were maroon colored signs with arrows on various light posts along the main routes through town.

The show was at 7:30 with the doors opening at 7:00 PM. We arrived around 6:45PM to park and get our tickets and that timing was perfect.

The balcony seating is "first come / first serve" so you'll want to arrive early enough to get a good seat.

We chose a comedy because our group is eclectic in its tastes, rather than being truly cultured. We also thought a comedy would be more accessible to the 11 year old and a couple of teens in the group.

I asked the box office person how we should dress and he said, "Dress like you would to go to a movie theatre - it is fairly casual". Even though it was summer, our gentlemen all wore pants (not shorts) and nice sports shirts. Our ladies wore slacks and blouses or sundresses. This is a little nicer than what we would wear to our local movie theatre and it seemed to be about right, when compared to other guests.

The theatre has benches but seat-backs were available. The benches had cushions and we were reasonably comfortable throughout the performance.

The performance itself was great! The cast absolutely infused the roles with zest and life and it was great fun. The younger members of our group were a little confused at first but it all came together and even the 11 year old loved it. Their motto is "We do it with the lights on" because they use "universal lighting" which means that the performers can see the audience and they play to the audience at times. The theatre is small and you feel very close to the performance.

Children must be at least 6 or 7 to attend.

There are beverages - alcoholic and non-alcoholic - for sale on the stage during the intermission.

I will definitely go back to the Blackfriars Playhouse if I'm ever in the area again.

1 Thank ajcolorado
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Surrey, England
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Go! You will love it!”
Reviewed July 30, 2006

As an Englishman, I was slightly worried about hearing the Bard's great verse in an American accent. I was completely wrong!

This is a vibrant theatre with some of the finest Shakespeare I've ever seen. The small company doubled-up where necessary, with girl's playing men where necessary, but the atmosphere, acting and delivery were absolutely brilliant. The building is a faithful recreation of an indoor Elizabethan theatre. They even give you a cushion to sit on.

We saw The Tempest. We were entertained and enthralled. The cast were extremely talented - singing, playing music, dancing as well as acting. Personally, I don't rate The Tempest as one of S's best, so the fact that I enjoyed this evening so much is a real tribute to the company!

Go! You'll love it!

3 Thank BrianNH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
106 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 144 helpful votes
“A most enjoyable evening”
Reviewed July 25, 2006

We went to the Black Friars Playhouse last night to see "As You Like It".

We've seen the play many times in various milieus and last night's performance compared very favorably with the other productions. The theater was small and one could get an excellent view of the stage from most vantage points. The performance was scheduled to start at 6:30pm. We tried to get tickets at the box office in the morning, but we were told that the good seats were sold out, and all they could offer was "partial view" or general admission. We opted to wait till about 30 minutes before the performance and were able to get center seats in Row D.

Before the performance began, members of the cast regaled us with songs and instrumental numbers. Then there was a mini-prologue in which 2 cast members told the audience about the company (11 members) and their mandate (perform Shakespeare as in Elizabethan times, in quasi-modern attire). They also urged the audienced to support the company by buying souvenirs from the gift shop, drinks from the on-site bar etc. The exchanges were quick-witted and funny. They also informed us that we could consume drinks purchased from the on-site bar during the performance.

The play itself was well-acted. Rosalind was superb both as herself and as Ganymede; so were Touchstone, Celia, Jaques, the Dukes (good and evil), the wrestler, Orlando, Oliver, Phoebe and the rest of the cast. The famous lines (esp. the seven stages of man etc) were delivered with superlative skill and unbridled enthusiasm. Some members of the cast played double roles. A few of the men played female roles, while some of the women doubled in male roles. Everyone in the cast was very enthusiastic and seemed to enjoy themselves. All told, it was a high-energy performance which thoroughly entertained the audience. We all agreed that this was indeed what Shakespeare truly intended.

Before and after the performance, we meet several cast members strolling through the town in regular garb. One (Orlando) had doubled as a play house tour guide during the day. We were suitably impressed in the evening when we realized that our knowledgeable tour guide was also an accomplished Shakespearean actor.

All told, it was a memorable evening. We will definitely return to the Black Friars Playhouse whenever possible.

3 Thank walhala
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
West Virgina
Level Contributor
26 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Great Fun”
Reviewed May 25, 2006

Blackfriar’s Theater is a fine professional Shakespearian Theater. The small size makes you part of the action. Much Ado was an excellent play. We took a tour the next day and were impressed by the guide’s in-depth knowledge and the fun of seeing back stage. Highly recommended.

2 Thank Erka
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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