The Dukes, LancasterOur previous articles about The Dukes,

Shedloads of Comedy at The Dukes

The Dukes autumn 2016 standup comedy season ends on December 10, 2016 with the return of Mark Thomas and his new show.

The Red Shed is the third part of a trilogy of multi-awardwinning shows – including Bravo Figaro and Cuckooed – which Mark has previously brought to the Lancaster theatre.

It sees Mark reminiscing about the place where he first performed, a red wooden shed in Wakefield which housed the Labour Club, to celebrate its 50th birthday.

Part theatre, stand-up, journalism and activism,The Red Shed is the story of the battle for hope and the survival of a community.

Mark, who this year won The Stage’s Special Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for innovation and outstanding new writing, has also presented six series on Channel 4, published three books and a manifesto and has had various series commissioned by Radio 4.

He won a Sony Award for My Life in Serious Organised Crime, has been a regular contributor to The New Statesman, holds a Guinness World Record, investigated everything from Coca-Cola to inheritance tax avoidance in various TV documentaries, given evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees and stopped multinational infrastructure deals.

The Red Shed is recommended for anyone aged 14 and over. Tickets are priced £16/£13 concessions, (a £1 per transaction fee applies when booking online). For more information and to book, call The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit

 The Red Shed

Get Set For Reset With James Acaster

Up-and-coming comedian, James Acaster, calls into The Dukes on October 22, 2016 during his national tour.

Having quickly established himself on the comedy scene, James’s latest show – Reset – has been described as his best yet and considers what life would be like if we could start afresh time and again.

Last year, James won Best Breakthrough Act and Best Show at the Chortle Awards and in 2014 he scooped the Best International Show Award at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival. He’s also notched up four award nominations, including Best Comedy Show, at Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

In addition to his successful stand-up career, James also fronts a new series for BBC Three, Sounds Random, where he invites an array of stellar music guests to discuss randomly selected tracks from their collections.

This year also saw the second series of James’s online comedy-documentary Sweet Home Ketteringa, where he visited Lahnstein in Germany, the official twin town of his home town of Kettering.

James is a familiar face on many other comedy television shows too including Live at the Apollo, Have I Got News For You and Mock The Week.

His radio appearances include a regular guest spot on fellow comic Josh Widdicombe’s XFM show and writing and presenting his own show, Findings, for BBC Radio 4.

Reset is recommended for anyone aged 14 and over. Tickets are priced £15/£13 concessions, (a £1 per transaction fee applies when booking online). For more information and to book, call The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit The Dukes website (opens in a new window)

The Dukes autumn standup season also features Mark Watson(October 15); Tiff Stevenson(October 28) and Mark Thomas(December 10).

Icy Drama To Melt Your Heart

Read our review here . . .

Ockerbys on IceThe Dukes is staging the premiere of a heartwarming play about an ordinary couple who win a second chance at life, thanks to cryonic freezing.

The Ockerbys On Ice, which runs from September 30, 2016 - October 22, 2016 at the Lancaster theatre, is a love story to melt the coldest of hearts.

Written by Dukes Associate Artist and Coronation Street scriptwriter, Debbie Oates, a version of the play was first aired on Radio 4.

The daughter of a scientist, Debbie explores the universal themes of mortality, love, life and loss through the lives of Dennis and Viv Ockerby, a couple more likely to be found at home in front of the tv than at the cutting edge of science and medical ethics.

“I first came across Debbie’s play in 2010 and have found it impossible to let go ever since,” said The Dukes Artistic Director, Joe Sumsion.

“It’s both a love story and a play of ideas. Debbie explores big ethical questions through the eyes of a warm, funny couple wrestling with their own concerns. The result is a wonderful play for the head, heart and soul.”

Viv and Dennis Ockerby, played by former Coronation Street and Emmerdale actors, Karen Henthorn and David Crellin, are looking forward to retirement when Dennis is hit by a devastating diagnosis. But thanks to a scientific breakthrough, they win a shot at immortality.

And if Denis does take the path to eternity, he’ll be watched by the world as the whole process is to be live-streamed for the first time.

However, as Dennis marches towards his destiny, Viv questions his decision and wonders what the future might hold for them.

The Ockerbys On Ice, which will be performed in The Round, continues in The Dukes tradition of presenting new work and is the first to be partly supported by a crowdfunding campaign and a donation from television producer and Dukes Guardian, Carolyn Reynolds.

The Ockerbys On Ice is recommended for anyone aged 12 plus. To book tickets, ring The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or visit The Dukes website.

Cast and rehearsal photos for Ockerbys On Ice


The Dukes In Line For Top Theatre Award

The Dukes outdoor walkabout production of The Hobbit has been nominated for a prestigious UK Theatre Award.

The Lancaster theatre’s version of the Tolkien classic story attracted more than 17,000 people from Dundee to Windsor and as far afield as North America to Malaysia when it was performed in Williamson Park during July and August.

It has been nominated as Best Show For Children And Young People alongside Birmingham Stage Company’s production of Gangsta Granny and Little Red And The Wolf by Dundee Rep Ensemble.

The UK Theatre Awards demonstrate the breadth and depth of outstanding talent and achievement in theatre and the performing arts throughout the United Kingdom, on and off stage.

Julian Bird, Chief Executive of UK Theatre, said: “This year’s nominations demonstrate that theatres in the UK are continuing to thrive artistically. Night after night, incredible work can be seen on stages up and down the country. From thought-provoking drama to musical revivals, our industry is a world-leader. We also recognise the hard work of the dedicated teams backstage and front of house, without which there would be no theatre.”

The Dukes Executive Director, Ivan Wadeson said: “The Dukes is delighted that The Hobbit has been nominated for such a prestigious award. The annual park show has been enjoyed by more than half a million people since 1987, bringing visitors from far and wide to the beauty of Williamson Park alongside enthusiastic local audiences. The Hobbit being recognised by UK Theatre tops an incredible summer for The Dukes.”

The Awards will be presented on October 9 at a ceremony at London’s historic Guildhall in front of an audience including Sir Ian McKellen who will receive the Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre Award.

Enormously Enjoyable Family Drama

An adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s best-selling book An Elephant in the Garden visits The Dukes this autumn.

Michael Morpurgo is the multi-award winning author of War Horse and Private Peaceful.

Through storytelling in action, An Elephant in the Garden comes to life on stage as Lizzie, her mother and an elephant from the zoo flee the Allied fire-bombing during World War Two.

Told by former RSC and National Theatre actress, Alison Reid, this is Lizzie’s story yet Marlene the elephant is the heroine who embodies the stubbornness of the human will and how it will do anything to survive.

An Elephant in the Garden, which is perfect for the whole family, will be presented in The Round at 2pm and 7.30pm on October 26, 2016.

This performance is recommended for audiences aged 9 and over. Tickets are £13 and £8 for concessions (a £1 per transaction fee applies when booking online). For more information and to book, call The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit