Theatre by the Lake

Come and stay at Borrowdale Gates over the the last week of July and August and combine a relaxing stay with seeing one of these amazing plays at our very own Theatre by the Lake in Keswick.
A sparkling comedy and an intense psychological drama are about to open at Theatre by the Lake in Keswick to complete the 2016 Summer Season of six contrasting plays.
The Rivals, which was written in just six weeks when Richard Brinsley Sheridan was only 24, soon became one of the great classics of English theatre and opens in the Main House on Sat 30 July. Iron by Rona Munro follows in the Studio a week later on Sat 6 August.

The Rivals will be Ian Forrest’s penultimate production before he moves on early next year after 17 years as Theatre by the Lake’s Artistic Director.

It tells a swaggering story of love, intrigue and deception and features the word-mangling Mrs Malaprop (“he is the very pineapple of politeness”), one of the great characters of English drama. In true Theatre by the Lake tradition, the play is given a stunning set and elegant costumes designed by Resident Designer Martin Johns.

The Rivals is set in Bath, where Sheridan moved with his father when he was 17. He knew about the members of fashionable society who flocked to the city to promenade, take the waters, dance at balls – and indulge in a flirtation or two.

As jokes fly, the plot twists and turns, taking in an elopement and a duel – and Sheridan knew about both. He had eloped in France with the 16-year-old singer Elizabeth Linley to save her from the clutches of a lecherous army officer. The major challenged Sheridan to a duel, which the playwright won, and then demanded a rematch, in which Sheridan was seriously wounded. He recovered and in The Rivalsmade farcical use of his near fatal experience on the duelling field.

There could not be a bigger contrast with Iron by Rona Munro. It’s a perfect play for the Studio, telling of a woman jailed for life for murder. After 15 years, her 25-year-old daughter makes her first visit and the two circle cautiously round each other, catching up on their stories and trying to understand what each feels for the other.

The Guardian’s Michael Billington described Iron as “emotionally honest and socially resonant” and said it transcended “the melodramatic clichés of prison drama to explore the relationship between a mother and daughter and the corrosive nature of the penal system”.

In a passionate programme note, Eric Allison, the Guardian’s prisons correspondent, reports that “to visit a women’s jail is to witness sights and sounds that would make a drystone wall weep”.

Playwright Rona Munro has written extensively for the stage, film and television (including Dr Who and Casualty). Her recent work includes The James Plays, a modern cycle of history plays spanning three generations of Stewart kings who ruled Scotland in the tumultuous 15th century.

They were first staged by the National Theatre of Scotland, moved on to the National Theatre in London and have since toured widely, earning Munro the reputation as one of the most admired playwrights in Britain today.

Season Tickets are available if you want to see more than one play – they start from as little as £16 per show. Individual tickets are priced from £34.50 – £10. You can book online at or by calling Box Office on 017687 74411.