Weekend travel guide: Theatre Royal Bath, what to do and see in Bath
Steeped in thousands of years of history and a world heritage site, escape London with a trip to Bath. While you're in this picturesque city, take a pitstop at one of the country’s acclaimed regional theatres — Theatre Royal Bath. For over 200 years, audiences have flocked to this theatre to see world-class shows, later performed in London and around the world. Now, this autumn, live performances will recommence with the theatre's "Welcome Back" season, including three revivals and a touring production. Taking under two hours to travel from London to Bath, explore all that this incredible city to offer.
Whether you’ve visited this theatre before, or looking for inspiration for a small staycation, here’s our guide to the Theatre Royal Bath.
All you need to know about the Theatre Royal Bath
The Theatre Royal Bath is located on Sawclose, in Bath (BA1 1ET). The theatre was built in 1805, with a seating capacity of 900*. Over the course of two centuries, the theatre has been redecorated, renovated and expanded to cater for audience demand. The Theatre Royal Bath is home to three theatres - the Main House, the Ustinov Studio and the egg theatre catered for children and young people. The Ustinov Studio is a150-seat theatre which often presents brand new works.
Backstage tours of the Main House at Theatre Royal Bath take place throughout the year. Members of the public can discover what it takes to put on a show, visiting backstage areas usually out of bounds.
West End shows that have transferred from Bath to London
It’s not guaranteed that every show performed at Theatre Royal Bath will transfer to London. However, Theatre Royal Bath is one of the West End’s prolific producers, with previous shows including:
The Man In the White Suit, starring Stephen Mangan and Kara Tointon. A quintessentally British play, "Michael Taylor's set sumptuously and effortlessly moving from pub to factory to stately home: it could be used for a musical, and indeed at times the show aspires to being one, with a skiffle band on hand to perform Charlie Fink's jaunty period pastiche songs."
* Seating capacity will be reduced for upcoming productions at Theatre Royal Bath, in line with social distancing guidelines.
What shows are at Theatre Royal Bath?
The autumn season at Theatre Royal Bath will open with Betrayal, with performances from 14-31 October. Considered to be a semi-autobiographical play based on Harold Pinter’s extramarital affair, Betrayal explores the intertwined relationships of a love triangle. Scenes unfold in reverse chronology, as lovers confess their mistakes to one another. But, can they make amends, or will they betray each other for life? The Betrayal cast will star Nancy Carroll as Emma, Joseph Millson and Edward Bennett, with direction by Jonathan Church.
Haydn Gwynne will star in the upcoming production of Copenhagen, with performances from 20 Jan. 2021 - 16 Feb. 2021. Set in the Nazi-occupied Danish capital, Michael Frayn's Tony Award-winning play sees spirits of two Nobel Prize-winning physicists find themselves on opposite sides of World War Two. As they exchange ideas, there’s implications for future fighting, as well as the world we live in today. Gwynne will play Margrethe Bohr, joined by Michael Gould and Philip Arditti.
The third play in the autumn season is David Mamet's Oleanna. Set on an American campus, the relationship between a male college professor and his female student becomes more than just acquaintances. John Heffernan will play John and Rosie Sheehy will play Carol, and performances will take place from 3 December - 16 Jan. 2021.
Following the news that The Play That Goes Wrong will reopen at the Duchess Theatre, this Christmas, Theatre Royal Bath audiences can see The Play That Goes Wrong too. The ‘goes wrong’ classic sees a group of amateur dramatic thespians prepare for curtain up, but can they get there? The Play That Goes Wrong is at Theatre Royal Bath from Dec. 17, 2020 - Jan. 10, 2021.
How do I get to Theatre Royal Bath from London?
Trains from London Paddington to Bath take just 1 hour and 19 minutes. On an average weekday, a train departs from London to Bath every 30 minutes. Around 72 trains run between London Paddington and Bath Spa each weekday.
Driving from London to Bath via the M4 takes on average 2 hours and 30 minutes.
National Express coaches are also available from London Victoria coach station to Bath Spa bus station. On average, there are six coaches that travel from London to Bath each weekday.
What else is there to do in Bath?
Visit the Roman Baths
A trip to Bath wouldn’t be complete without a look at the Roman baths, and they’re clearly popular too, as over 1.3 million people visit the baths each year. Nearly 2,000 years ago, temples were erected on the site, with communities bathing in the pools and offering their valuables to gods. Unfortunately, you can’t get in the hot springs now, but tourists and locals can imagine they’re in sacred water by taking a trip to the baths. Take a look at the Roman baths before you visit.
Walk around Royal Victoria Park
Opened in 1830 by a future Queen Victoria, stroll around all 57 acres of Royal Victoria Park. As well as the green spaces, visitors can also take in open-air concerts during the summer months. If you’re wanting to get sporty, there’s also tennis courts, putting greens and 18 hole golf courses. It’s easy to spend a family day out at Royal Victoria Park.
Cross the Pulteney Bridge
As one of only four bridges around the world to have a full parade of shops on both sides, it’s definitely worth checking out Pulteney Bridge. Although it’s stood in Bath for over 200 years, the bridge was used as a backdrop in Javert’s suicide in the film adaptation of Les Miserables.
Eat at Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House
Dating back to 1680, this cafe and eating house is one of the oldest in the area. But its sweet treats — the Sally Lunn bun — have become famous world over. Head to the museum and see the actual kitchen that was used by Sally Lunn herself, then enjoy a tea and snack afterwards.
Photo credit: (Courtesy of The Corner Shop PR and Robert Day)