A WINCHESTER theatre has announced its summer season, packed with everything from slapstick comedy to neo-classical ballet.

Theatre Royal’s season started with the Winchester Comedy Festival’s Spring Gala on Saturday, featuring Sara Pascoe, Matt Richardson, James Veitch and Rob Carter.

From May 21-23 Alan Ayckbourn’s classic Absent Friends explores friendship, marriage and what it means to be happy as a surprise tea party for a bereaved friend sparks tensions and opens old wounds.

There is a pre-show lecture and post-show discussion.

Next on the bill is Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (June 2-6). Re-imagined by acclaimed company Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, this well-known story of boy meets girl is no simple love story.

The In Conversation programme continues with Michael Frayn (June 15). The acclaimed writer discusses his latest collection of stories, Matchbox Theatre, and his lifelong fascination with uncertainty.

He will be interviewed by former director of the Winchester Festival, writer and broadcaster John Miller.

Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing takes to the stage from July 9-11, presented by Blue Apple Theatre.

On July 20 one of the original cast members of Fame in 1980, Antonia Franceschi, will bring together talented artists in neo-classical ballet Just Dance.

Presented by AFD/ Giant Olive and featuring live music and dancers from Royal Ballet, Ballet Black and Random Dance, it is a rare treat for those that are both new to dance and avid enthusiasts.