WORK has almost finished on Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, with the first performance set to take place in less than two weeks.

And The Press was invited to take a first look around the structure, which stands on Castle Car Park next to Clifford’s Tower in York.

It is Europe’s first ever temporary Shakespearean theatre.

Construction work began just two weeks ago and James Cundall, chief executive of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, said the theatre should be complete by Wednesday morning.

Rehearsals, including practice sessions for scenes in which actors fly across the stage, will then begin at the site later this week.

Mr Cundall said: “We are probably a day ahead of where we expected to be and the cast are busy rehearsing in London. What you instantly realise is that no one is more than 15 metres from the stage. A lot of the battle scenes will come right through, it’s very intimate. If you have the VIP seats you really are nearly on the stage. If you brought Shakespeare and his audiences back here today he would instantly recognise the space. I hope people get a sense of what it was like to see these plays for the first time.”

A celestial ceiling was installed above the stage on Sunday and the next step for the construction team is to start work on the Elizabethan village surrounding the structure, which will include buildings providing food and drink, a garden and a wagon on which free entertainment will be provided.

Mr Cundall said it has taken about 11,000 hours of work to build the theatre, which weighs about 70 tonnes. He added that ticket sales are going well and said: “We are seeing 700 flyers picked up at weekends – if that translates into ticket sales that would be a joy.

“The aim of this is simply to treasure people’s leisure time and give them something that is unusual.”

For tickets to see Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Richard III visit