Theatre by the Lake- round up by Ken Powell

TBTLKeswick’s Theatre by the Lake (TBTL) have premiered all their six plays for the summer season now and all are in full flow.

In the Main House, the team put on two comedies and one murder mystery. Both comedies are great, with Watch It, Sailor! being a romp through a 1950s’ wedding day from hell, and The Rivals, an equally hellish time for some, but set in Bath in the late 18th Century. Peter Rylands is the actor to watch in the former, as the downtrodden father who just wants a peaceful life with his ferrets.

Alex Phelps plays poor Bob Acres in the latter, with whom the audience falls in love as the hapless lad finds himself on the wrong end of a duel through no fault of his own.

Dial M for Murder is a classic murder mystery which was well put together and the murder itself ‘executed’ perfectly (pardon the pun).

A great one to use as an introduction to theatre for first-time-teenagers perhaps. It is Thomas Richardson in all three performances who scores overall ‘man of the season’.

In the more intimate Studio, the performances are more thought-provoking and challenging.

The Vertical Hour touches on the ethics of political and military involvement in Iraq but really looks at the inner ethics of private lives.

Elektra is a classic Greek play, covering the well-trodden plot of family revenge over the unjust murder of a father.

Finally, Iron looks at a daughter and mother re-finding each other many years after the mother murdered her husband.

It is hard to pick out the best of these superb productions – but, I would go for Iron – partly because of the challenging nature of the subject matter, but mainly because Helen Macfarlane as daughter and Elizabeth Marsh as mother give incredibly powerful performances.

But ‘woman of the season’ would go to Joanna Simpkins for her performances in the other two plays. She is a striking personality, even before she opens her mouth, but when she does – oh my goodness! Simpkins is simply electrifying.

All plays are on until November, tickets available from the box office on 017687 74411.

Or see their website at http://www.theatrebythelake.com/