RUSSIAN spies, espionage, and an encounter with the Queen all feature in the next summer season production to open at the Theatre by the Lake.

The Keswick venue welcomes Alan Bennett’s award-winning comedy Single Spies to the Main House on Thursday June 14.

Single Spies premiered at the National Theatre in 1988 and won the 1990 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.

Written by national treasure Bennett, whose plays The History Boys, Habeas Corpus and The Lady in the Van have played to great acclaim at the venue over the years, the production is directed by Tom Littler, who directed 2017’s Miss Julie, which attracted rave reviews and transferred to London’s Jermyn Street Theatre following its run in Keswick. The cast features Karen Ascoe, James Duke, Theo Fraser Steele, Oliver Mott, Thomas Richardson and Toby Vaughan.

A compelling double bill of two short plays - An English Man Abroad and A Question of Attribution - Single Spies uncovers the true stories behind two notorious characters: Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt, members of the infamous Cambridge Spies.

In An Englishman Abroad, double agent Guy Burgess has defected to the Soviets and is living in Moscow, deprived of his creature comforts. But when he’s visited by the actress Coral Browne, Burgess entrusts her with a top secret mission of her own.

As A Question of Attribution shows, there was nobody Sir Anthony Blunt didn’t know. As Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, he was on friendly terms with Her Majesty. But with an art forgery on his hands and a policeman in his office, Blunt’s latest trip to Buckingham Palace is looking awkward.

Tom Littler, the show’s director, says: “After directing Miss Julie last year, it is such a pleasure to be back in Keswick with Alan Bennett's Single Spies.

"Whether you know anything about the Cambridge Spies or not, these are two engrossing plays. As Britain and Russia once again find themselves engaged in an espionage conflict in 2018, it's fascinating to see these stories from the 1960s and 70s. But being Alan Bennett, there's no shortage of laughs along the way.”

Single Spies plays in Theatre by the Lake’s Main House from Thursday June 14 to Wednesday October 24. Tickets for all shows are available from the Theatre by the Lake box office.