A TROUPE of Worcester actors got a step closer to Shakespeare before the opening of their production of Much Ado About Nothing.

The cast and crew of Shakespeare at The Commandery, whose new production of the Bard’s comedy opens tomorrow, were granted special access to see William Shakespeare’s marriage bond last week.

The fragile document, which is stored at Worcestershire County Council’s Record Office at County Hall, has to be kept in a high-security vault due to its age, historical significance and high value and is rarely allowed out of its hermetically sealed cases.

“The story behind the bond itself reads like a classic Shakespeare play,” said Robin Whitaker, archives manager and diocesan archivist from Worcestershire Record Office.

“The normal process of marriage in Shakespeare's day included the calling of banns on three Sunday's leading up to the service and entry into the parish register.

“But Shakespeare was married by bishop’s licence, a quicker, alternative route which meant he could get married quickly because Anne Hathaway was pregnant.

“William would have had to attend court at Worcester Cathedral to obtain the special licence and pay £40, a substantial amount of money in those days."

While the original document is sealed within the Records Office there is an exact replica on display in Worcester Cathedral, in the South West aisle near the font, which the public can view.

Susan Mcleod from Worcester Cathedral said: “It is a fantastic piece of history that Worcester can be proud of. It’s also brilliant that the document is in exactly the same area where the court would have taken place and Shakespeare and his family would have stood to sign the bond.”

The replica was placed inside the cathedral three years ago thanks to an initiative led by the Worcester Tourism Association to have the bond on public display.

Lucky members of the Shakespeare At The Commandery cast were able to see the document with their own eyes a few days before they act out one of the Bard’s best-loved plays.

Much Ado, a classic Shakespearian comedy which follows two sets of lovers through jealousy, trickery and conspiracy as they fight for a happy ending, is performed in the Commandery garden from Tuesday, June 8, to Saturday, June 19.

Tickets, at £8.50-£14.50, are available from worcesterlive.co.uk or from 01905 611427.