Famous and fit for The Duke

Hardeep Singh Kohli
Hardeep Singh Kohli

Famous names past and present play their part in The Dukes forthcoming season.

Outlaw Robin Hood and England’s most famous hangman, Albert Pierrepoint, are central characters in two 2013 Dukes productions.

For its return to walkabout theatre in Lancaster’s Williamson Park, The Dukes has chosen Robin Hood, an all-new actionpacked production, running from July 5-August 10.

Robin Hood ends a season which begins with The Dukes co-production of Pierrepoint – The Hangman’s Tale from January 31-February 23.

This play about England’s last hangman tells how Pierrepoint combined his job as a Lancashire pub landlord with being the country’s official executioner.

The Dukes second production of the season is Savage Children which features two plays. Mirad, Boy From Bosnia(May 21-22) and Wild Girl(May 23-25) are about children from very different worlds, based on real historical events and question the notions of family, freedom and children’s rights.

Making their Dukes debuts in 2013 are the nationally renowned company, Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory with their full cast production of Two Gentlemen of Verona from May 7-11; and Northern Ballet, one of the UK’s premier ballet companies with their bite-sized, child friendly show Ugly Duckling on April 5.

The Waving Cat of Japan featuring sign language arts, puppets and traditional Japanese imagery is another treat for young children on May 25.

Northern Broadsides return on February 19-23 with Rutherford & Son directed by Jonathan Miller. This unflinching portrayal of an industrial Edwardian family stars Wendi Peters who played Cilla Battersby Brown in Coronation Street.

Comedy continues its popular run at The Dukes with Jason Manford’s show in May already sold out. Other laughtermakers lined up are Hardeep Singh Kohli(March 1); Zoe Lyons(March 20) and John Shuttleworth(March 22).

Agony aunt Virginia Ironside is Growing Old Disgracefully on May 2 in one of two Listen Up at The Dukes events this season which also features recordbreaking British mountaineer, Kenton Cool on February 27.

And the best of the Edinburgh Fringe is brought to Lancaster on April 23-24 with The Trench, an awardwinning new play set in World War One.

Performances by and for young people are an important strand of The Dukes new season.

University of Cumbria students return with Lady Windermere’s Fan from January 16-19 and Equus from January 23-26.

And Wasted, a play by Kate Tempest, the UK’s most exciting performance poet, on March 12 is followed on March 25 by Whole, a play about a group of Liverpool teenagers. Also in March, The Dukes Senior Youth Theatre present We Lost Elijah as part of the 2013 National Theatre Connections Festival and the two Lancaster grammar schools Return to the Forbidden Planet.

The Dukes Young Actors & Young Company, who stormed the theatre with The Unsociables last spring, perform their version of Hamlet from April 16-20.

Lancashire Youth Dance Festival is staged in May and The Dukes Shattering Images Theatre Company for young adults with learning disabilities present Diamonds Aren’t Forever in July.

At the other end of the age range, The Dukes collaboration with Age UK continues this spring with Mind Walking(March 27 & 28), which combines aerial performance with an emotionally charged story about the enduring love of a mature couple.

The Dukes musical offering this spring continues to be varied. Wired In has proved so popular that it’s moved to The Round on March 11 and April 22.

Also striking a musical note this season are N’DOdO, Iain Hunter’s reincarnation of Afro/Jazz/Rock group NO DODO from the Nineties(March 16); Hope & Social, described by The Independent as one of the UK’s top five bands(April 30); and the Jaipur Kawa Brass Band whose rousing repertoire features a performance by a genuine Fakir on May 4.