The Camden Fringe Reviews and Previews
You lovers of theatre, or things that can barely qualify as such, or even any kind of oddball performance that barely comes with a programme, are most likley aware of the prestigious Edinburgh International Festival, now in its 70th year, and it’s mental little brother, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
But what if you don’t have the kind of job that allows jumping onto a crowded train and heading north? If you are a Londoner, there is no need to wander far from home – it’s Camden Fringe time. You want to be entertained, well, just try not to be. Comedy abounds. Music? All sorts of it. Something different? Edgy? Eager to see an obese ex-clergyman in a bathtub full of egg whites joking about Brexit? Ummm, well, next year probably, I’m sure I’ve given someone an idea.
The Camden Fringe was born in 2006 and is still run by founders Zena Barrie and Michelle Flower, providing distraction for, and soaking up all of the beer money from, culturally-minded folks who can’t make the four and half hour train ride up to Scotland. About 200 acts are now on stage or gearing up in 20 different venues across the middle of the capital (the neighbourhood of Camden is not nearly big enough to host all of these shenanigans), and are taking place throughout the day and evening, through August 27th, are sampler-sized at under an hour, generally, and are reasonably priced, starting at 5 pounds. You’ll find a lot of stand-up and one-person shows – makes sense: those are cheap to produce and can be held anywhere – but also opera, musicals, sketch comedy groups, dance, cabaret, poetry, opera, writing seminars and Q&As.
The first week offered a few good options:
Flood (Paper Creatures Theatre)
What’s more draining on relationships between a group of friends and family: catastrophic weather, a death or being trapped in a house together? Tom Hartwell’s debut 5-person play keeps the characters physically close even though they are emotionally very far apart. Flood is tense and funny and rings true to anyone who ever wanted to not be where they are.
through Saturday, August 5, at the Tristan Bates Theatre
Mr. Grebe is Taking Your Class Today
The audience is the class as, filling in for a sick teacher, Mr. Grebe strides into the room and procedes to ineffectively teach you Chemistry, Art and Psychology while having an alternately funny and disturbing mental breakdown. The success of this depends on how much the audience on the evening wants to play along – but you can’t say comedian Donal Coonan, after a slow start, doesn’t commit to the ill-dressed, disappointed by life, everyman character.
wrapped up for now, was at the Camden Comedy Club
The Bad Arm: Confessions of a Dodgy Irish Dancer (Clerkin Dagger)
Forget Dance Moms, the real cuthroat entertainent world is that of the Jiggies, or the Wiggies, or whatever you call the participants on-stage and off- in Irish dancing. It’s silly and delightful and full of fake hair and fake smiles, and actress/comedian, ex-punkrocker and failed dancer Máire Clerkin knows it in and out. She’s a charming companion as she shares her life story and you learn how much a “bad arm” can hold you back.
through Saturday August 5, at the Tristan Bates Theatre
PCB is looking forward to:
Pageant (The Flash Point Group LTD)
A musical comedy about the competitive world of the Miss Glamouresse Pageant – tears, songs, outrageous costumes, jokes and wigs, all in a RuPaul kind of way. Oh, and you get to judge! What’s not to love? Originally debuted Off-Broadway in 1991, now at The London Irish Centre. 10th – 25th August
Grab ‘Em By the Pussy
I think you can figure out this comedy show’s intentions. Sing along through your tears. At The Monkey House. 9th- 12th August
Your twenties are meant to be the best years of your life, but those of us over that age know (shhh!) that really isn’t true. Twenty Something is Freya Bardell’s look at a millennial trying to navigate her way as best as she can, but finding that she may be failing at every turn. We might go and shake our head in empathy. At Moors Bar Theatre. 24th – 25th August
Fan Girl (Nerd 2 Productions)
Comic drama by Eddie Coleman, about Geraldine, a secretary caring for her invalid mother, and the poor lamb’s only joy comes from a GOT-ish television show called Zenobia. Lonely Geraldine can take no more and cashes in her savings to attend the first ever UK Zenobia fan convention in Leeds. You can guess the Comic-Con crowd she runs into. Will nerd love blossom? Awwww, bless her cotton socks. At Hen and Chickens. 23rd – 24th August
all the details of the many, many bizarre and just plain great events at the Camden Fringe Festival here
A former ABC National, Dallas and Atlanta radio personality, Martina O'Boyle is now making movies and covering culture in London, Dublin, and as far in Europe as the cheapie flights will take her, for Pop Culture Beast.