The Cumbria Tourism team were kindly invited to the opening night of The Rivals at the ‘Theatre by the Lake‘ in Keswick last Saturday, and it didn’t disappoint!
A comedy written by Robert Brinsley Sheridan, first shown in Covent Garden in 1775, The Rivals is still laugh out loud funny today.
The play follows the trials and tribulations of the wealthy heiress Lydia Languish and the three suitors determined to win her hand and (in some cases) her fortune. Lydia is in love with the apparently penniless Ensign Beverley while her guardian, the incorrigible Mrs Malaprop, attempts to engage her to the more socially acceptable Captain Jack Absolute.
Neither lady knows this is one and the same man! Many comical situations and misunderstandings arise from this case of double identity, as Captain Jack struggles to keep up the deception to different parties, retain Lydia’s love and compete against his rivals for her hand in marriage.
The cast were fantastic, blending the right amount of comedy, farce and pathos when deceptions are discovered and some of the characters feel betrayed. The costumes, especially the gowns worn by the ladies, were sumptuous and a simple but clever set with revolving screens for different locations kept us glued to the action!
The staff at the theatre were friendly and helpful from start to finish, greeting us at the box office entrance with tickets at the ready, providing programmes and behind the scenes knowledge of the production. They also pointed us in the right direction for our seats! The production was in the main auditorium, which is a great space, large enough to feel grand but small enough to easily see all the action. We had a great view opposite the centre of the stage, the actors projected well and used the whole stage so no part of the audience was left out of the drama!
The theatre also offers family friendly productions, such as the upcoming fairy tale The Emperor and the Nightingale. Plus, its located in a beautiful setting right on the shores of Derwentwater, making it perfect to tie in a theatrical visit with a day out on the lake and exploring Keswick!
(written by Chloe Smith-Foster)