As the first two of Theatre by the Lake’s summer shows go into rehearsals, TBTL is delighted to welcome the eleven actors who will be working across the six plays which will be entertaining audiences this summer, as well as Stephen Tompkinson and Jessica Johnson, who are currently rehearsing for the upcoming Spring production of Educating Rita. The theatre is buzzing with all the talent in the building – and in the few days that the actors have been in Keswick, they’ve already been treated to the full range of Cumbrian weather – from glorious sunshine through to snow!
The Ladykillers by Graham Linehan (the co-creator of Father Ted, Black Books and The IT Crowd) is the first Main House show of the Summer Season, from 24 May. Adapted from the much-loved film, it sees one of the funniest British pictures of all time transformed from macabre comedy into madcap mayhem. Directed by Chris Honer (who directed TBTL’s Christmas production, Beauty & the Beast), it features a cast of seven: Patrick Driver, Dominic Gately, Devesh Kishore, Rachel Laurence, Luke Murphy, Chris Porter and Eric Potts, alongside a community cast who will feature in the production.
Next door in the Studio runs My Mother Said I Never Should, from 23 May, featuring the rest of the Summer Season company: Georgina Ambrey, Asha Kingsley, Maggie O’Brien and Emily Pithon. Charlotte Keatley’s beautiful play weaves together the stories of four women from one family, and is described by The Guardian as ‘a landmark play. The theatrical equivalent of breaking the four-minute mile’. It’s directed by Katie Posner, who has recently been announced as the new joint Artistic Director of the renowned new writing company, Paines Plough.
The actors will then go on to perform in two further Summer Season productions each, one of the joys of TBTL’s rep season being the chance to see the same actors acting across different shows.
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, by Jim Cartwright and directed by Zoë Waterman, is the second Main House production, from 6 June. Funny, brutal, beautiful and sad, it’s been named in the top 50 plays of all time and was the winner of an Olivier Award for Best Comedy. The cast includes Georgina Ambrey as Little Voice (making her professional debut), Emily Pithon as Mari, and Chris Porter as Ray Say.
The second Studio show of the season, also from 6 June, is the regional premiere of The Children, by Olivier Award-winning writer Lucy Kirkwood. First seen at the Royal Court, the play tells the story of Hazel and Robin, two retired nuclear scientists, whose peaceful life is disrupted by an old colleague with a secret. It’s directed by local director Stefan Escreet who said: “The Children has a story particularly resonant for our region. It’s rare to find a play that asks the big questions we are all facing with such warmth, wit and wisdom.”
Dear Uncle is the third Main House show, from 1 August. Set in Ennerdale in the 1930s, the play is by Alan Ayckbourn and is adapted from Uncle Vanya, Chekhov’s tragi-comedy masterpiece of ennui, unfulfilled desires and regret. It is directed by Tom Littler, who will be returning to TBTL having directed the sell-out Spring production Creditors and last year’s Single Spies.
The final show of the season is another regional premiere: Guards at the Taj by Rajiv Joseph, which plays in the Studio from 8 August. Set in India in 1648, the play is a wickedly funny, though sometimes harrowing, tale about beauty, the powerful and the powerless, as two hapless guards resist the urge to look at the most beautiful monument the world has ever seen. Directed by Kash Arshad, who assisted on 2017’s smash-hit show Handbagged, Guards at the Taj was the opening show at the newly renovated Bush Theatre, in 2017.
Of the company, Dominic Gately and Maggie O’Brien have performed previously at Theatre by the Lake, Dominic having appeared in the 2006 Summer Season and Spring 2011, and Maggie having appeared in the 2013 Summer Season. Maggie said: “I am thrilled to return to Theatre by the Lake for a second season. Being part of the summer ensemble is so special for an actor and this year I am in three cracking plays including the regional premiere of The Children. I am also looking forward to climbing a few of those stunning hills and swimming in Derwentwater – it has to be done!”
Newcomer Luke Murphy added: “I’m very excited to be performing at Theatre by the Lake for the Summer Season. I’ll be playing Harry in The Ladykillers, Billy in Little Voice and Humayun in Guards at the Taj, three great plays I’m looking forward to exploring. I’m sure I’ll be kept very busy with rehearsals and performing but hopefully I’ll find some time to explore the Lake District too.”
Season tickets are available for audiences who want to see more than one show – the best deals mean a ticket can cost as little as £17.50 per show; see www.theatrebythelake.com/theatrepackages for details.
The Summer Season opens on 23 May with My Mother Said I Never Should in the Studio, followed by The Ladykillers on 24 May in the Main House. You can book online at www.theatrebythelake.com or by calling Box Office on 017687 74411.