1-17 October 2015
Reviewed by Catherine Dolan
I have lived in Lancaster for almost ten years and this was my first visit to the Dukes. Why, have I never been before I now ask myself!! What a charming, wonderful little theatre in the heart of Lancaster. The Dukes was opened 40 years ago and has hosted many wonderful named actors and actresses over the time, Amanda Burton (Silent Witness), Alex Kingston (ER and Doctor Who) and Malcolm Hebden (Coronation Street) to name but a few.
I was visiting to see A Tender Thing, the retelling of Shakespeare’s classic tragic love story Romeo & Juliet. Written by the National Theatre’s deputy artistic director, Ben Power, this reworked version looks at what would have happened if the 2 young lovers hadn’t died but lived into their twilight years. Directed by Louie Ingham, the whole play was centered on a table which would change into a bed. Based on Louie Ingham’s memories of her grandparent’s holidays by the sea, the production was based on the older Romeo & Juliet holidaying in Morecambe Bay but also had the younger Romeo & Juliet acting out their youthful days at the seaside. The sounds of the waves over the PA system truly made you feel that you were ‘beside the seaside’.
It was performed in The Round which is a beautiful 240 seat theatre space and, brought this live drama to its height. I was fortunate to have a front row seat and was mesmerised by the whole production. Shakespeare is not something I would normally go and see but Ben Power certainly made this production more believable for me, albeit that the spoken words were Shakespearian. The small intimate setting was most pleasing. Ian Blower and Jenny Lee played the title roles of the older Romeo & Juliet with Lucas Button and Ruby Henderson, both successful graduates of The Dukes Young Actors playing the younger version.
The bar in Dukes of Lancaster stays open post show and being a small production, the cast and crew came along to the bar for a well-earned drink and were more than happy to chat. It was great to be able to congratulate them on their wonderful performance.
I for one will most definitely be back to the Dukes of Lancaster!
Tickets cost from £12.50 to £18.50 (booking fees may apply).
The Dukes, Moor Lane, Lancaster, Lancashire, LA1 1QE | 01524 598500