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11 Of The Greatest Shakespearean Stage Fights

‘Eat like wolves and fight like devils.’ Henry V. The Royal Shakespeare Company celebrates #RSCFightWeek this week. To mark the occasion, take a look at some of the sexiest, angriest and most strikingly choreographed stage fights from the Company’s recent history.

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From this photo it’s possibly easy to see why Rosalind falls in love with Orlando from when she witnesses him brawling with Charles the Wrestler in As You Like It. Love at first bite.

Photo by Keith Pattison © RSC.

2.When In Doubt, Double Up.


The Earl of Warwick opts to defend himself using two swords in the Battle of Barnet from Shakespeare’s history play, Henry VI Part III. Unsporting.

Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC.

4.Brothers In Arms.

A disguised Edgar challenges his illegitimate (and general bad-egg) brother, Edmund, to a duel at the climax of King Lear. A slew of bodies ensues.

Photo by Manuel Harlan © RSC.

5.Two (Angry) Households.

Royal Shakespeare Company / Via

One of the bitterest family rivalries in literature: the Montagues and the Capulets do battle in Romeo and Juliet. Fight or flight.

Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC.

6.Down And Dirty.

Royal Shakespeare Company / Via

Mortal enemies, Coriolanus and Tullus Aufidius get up close and personal in Coriolanus. As it turns out, Aufidius gets the upper hand and ends the play standing on top of Coriolanus’ corpse. Cheery.

Photo by Simon Annand © RSC.

7.Fencing Frenchman.

Royal Shakespeare Company / Via

Here an irate Doctor Caius wows his rival Hugh Evans with his breakdancing and foil skills, to win the love of (an uninterested) Anne Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Impressive.

Photo by Pete Le May © RSC.

8.Femme Fatale.

Royal Shakespeare Company / Via

One of history’s finest female warriors and martyrs, Joan of Arc was depicted somewhat differently in Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part I, here with her ‘fiends’ doing battle with Talbot. Girl power.

Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC.

9.‘Though She Be But Little, She Is Fierce!’


Friends and love rivals Hermia and Helena have one of the most memorable Shakespearean cat fights in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. All over a boy – tut.

Photo by Stewart Hemley © RSC.

10.The Other Prince Harry

Royal Shakespeare Compnay / Via

Hal and Hotspur duel to the death in Henry IV Part I. Hardly befitting of royal behaviour. You can find out more and book tickets for this production here:

Photo by Kwame Lestrade © RSC.

11.Double Trouble.


Dromio of Syracuse faces a catalogue of beatings from his master Antipholus of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors. Two sets of long-lost twins in one play? Improbable.

Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC.

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