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Theatre by the Lake

On the site where Keswick's portable Century Theatre used to be located, the Theatre by the Lake now is home to Cumbria's largest professional theatre company. Producing a full summer season, with productions in rep in both the main 390-seat theatre and 80-seat studio theatre, there is also an annual Christmas show.

The Century Theatre - a portable blue box, which could trundle round the country, but which settled permanently in Keswick in 1974 - was replaced a quarter-of-a-century later with a lakeland stone building, much more in keeping with its idyllic setting, next to Derwentwater. It was opened in 1999 by Dame Judi Dench and her late husband Michael Williams, their support remembered with the bronze sculpture of them both by sculptor Meryll Evans in the Theatre building.

Providing a summer repertory season, a venue for one-offs and concerts throughout the year, and an annual family show at Christmas, the Theatre by the Lake ensures that Cumbria and the Lake District are better provided with live entertainment than ever before.

In 2005 the summer rep included, in the main house, Dick Barton Special Agent Patrick Hamilton's Gaslight and Christopher Hampton's spine-chilling exposé of sexual manipulation amongst the French aristocracy, pre Revolution, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, based on the epistolary novel by Choderlos de Laclos.

The studio, if anything, was more eclectic, with April de Angelis' play about the lives of women in Restoration theatre, Playhouse Creatures joined by Terry Johnson's Dead Funny, revisiting the memories of such funny men as Tommy Cooper, Sid James, Eric Morecambe, Benny Hill and Tony Hancock abd a regional première of Carol Churchill's concentrated and thought-provoking piece about existence, A Number.

Alongside the year-long occasional events, from jazz to book readings, there is a Christmas show - the one just gone was Alan Bennett's adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's favourite Wind in the Willows.

The theatre website gives full details of additional events - concerts, visiting companies out of summer season and workshops. Keep an eye glued to that for the upcoming summer repertoire.

Keswick's Theatre by the Lake, by Derwent Water. Photo courtesy Theatre by the Lake

Theatre by the Lake Information

When: Daily

Where: Keswick

Cost: Main house: £10-£18.50; mat £10; seniors £9-£17.50;
Unwaged, students/under 16s £8;
Studio: £9-£11.50; mat £8; seniors £8-£10.50;
Unwaged, students & under 6s £7

Opening Hours: Main House: eves 8pm; mats 2pm;
Studio: eves 8.15pm; mat 2.15pm

Address: Lakeside, Keswick, CA12 5DJ

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