By Carmel Shortall
Can’t get tickets for the Olympics, or couldn’t care less? Can’t afford to get away?
Why not head to the Camden Fringe Festival in August instead? There are hundreds of shows in venues across Camden, Euston and Highgate covering everything from stand-up and sketch comedy to drama, musicals, even puppetry. The festival runs for four weeks – from Monday 30th July to Sunday 26th August.
So what can you look forward to? Take a look at this year’s highlights…
Does the sound of a ringing phone in an empty room make you nervous? It does Mat and he doesn’t want to answer it. Find out why in Is It Really Good To Talk? at the Etcetera Theatre on the 30th and 31st of July at 6pm. Tickets are £8 and £7 conc.
Those who are freaked out by rogue apostrophes and ‘text speak’ should put aside their copies of Eats, Shoots and Leaves and head down to the Etcetera Theatre on the 1st and 2nd of August at 6pm for Will Howells’s Grammar School (yes that apostrophe is correct). Apparently the show is suitable for non-pedants. Tickets are £7 and £6 conc.
Anticipate the Zombie apocalypse with 10 Days Earlier in which hapless scientist, Harold Grimhold counts down the last 10 days before the undead rise and turn rabid. Sheffield University Comedy Revue perform their one act play at the Camden Head every day from the 3rd to the 12th August at 3.30pm. Tickets are £7.50, conc. £5.
When Kat Francois, playwright, actress and World Poetry Slam Champion discovered she had a previously unknown relative, Lazarus Francois, who had left Grenada to fight in WW1, she wanted to know more. Now she brings his story to the Camden Fringe: Raising Lazarus, developed in conjunction with the Theatre Royal Stratford East is playing at the Camden People’s Theatre from the 2nd to the 4th August at 9pm; tickets are £8 and £6 conc.
Peter Davis and Matthew Woodcock are Roy Steel and Lorrimer Chesterfield – The Monster Hunters. They face horrors such as swamp monsters, mummified hands and the greatest vampire in all of London in an affectionate spoof of Amicus and Hammer horror films of the 60s and 70s. Showing at the EtceteraTheatre on the 4th and 5th of August at 9pm; tickets are £10 and £8 conc.
Also at the Etcetera is Take Desire Away, an exploration of the poetry and prose, as well as the “queer sensibility” of AE Housman. This one man show by Mansel David is on the 6th, 7th, 8th, 12th, 16th and 17th of August at 4.30pm. Tickets are £8 and £6 conc.
There is a rare chance to see Sylvia Plath’s verse play: Three Women, an exploration of childbirth and motherhood performed at the Etcetera from the 10th to the 12th of August at 9pm, tickets £6.50.
Two shows, celebrating the best in Hollywood and Broadway musicals are both running from the 6th to the 11th of August. They are Divinely Bette – Upstairs at the Gatehouse – celebrating the songs of Bette Midler (times vary between 7.30 and 9.00pm; tickets £12 and £10 conc.) and Kiss of the Red Menace: A Tribute to Kander and Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago, Funny Lady…) at the Tristan Bates Theatre (9.15pm; tickets £10 and conc. £7).
Highly acclaimed comedian, James Mullinger returns to the Camden Fringe for the fourth year running in The Man With No Shame – his new stand-up show. Having sold out in each of the three previous years, chances are tickets will be snapped up again so book early for the 3rd and the 13th August at the Etcetera at 9.00pm (tickets £7.50, conc. £5). Jimmy Carr (when he’s not busy squirreling his money away) has described James Mullinger as “a great stand up”.
Taragano Theatre presents Chrysalis, a dance/physical theatre piece that explores the stages of a woman’s life with two dancers and two musicians. It takes place at the Etcetera Theatre from the 8th to the 11th August at 3.00pm; tickets are £6.
You were promised puppetry so here it is. Stickyback Theatre brings It’s A Puppet Life – sketch comedy with puppets – to the Etcetera Theatre from the 13th to the 15th August at 7.30pm – tickets are £7 and conc. are £6.
Combining mime and physical theatre to tell a three-dimensional story, Square Peg Theatre chronicles the life of a married couple, from their first chance encounter to their last goodbye in Forwards and Backwards at the Camden People’s Theatre from 13th to 18th of August at 9.00pm. (Tickets £8).
Join the Sigil Club as, in their own words, they dare to fit the entire history of the comic book medium into one hour of comedy. Full Stage Splash: A Comic Look at the Comic Book uses sketches, puppets (yes, more puppets), fights and seven-foot long diagrams to educate and entertain at the Etcetera from the 16th to the 18th August at 7.30pm. All tickets are £7.50.
Getting It Off My Chest by Janice Day is a one woman monologue based on her experience of breast cancer. Janice refused chemo but sought alternative treatments. “On the way she deliberately lost seven stone in weight, replaced her husband with an electrical device and became a full-time professional writer and cabaret artiste.” Based on her book of the same name, the show plays at the Etcetera on the 19th and 20th August at 7.30pm, tickets £8, conc. £7.
The Etcetera Theatre (above the Oxford Arms Pub), 265 Camden High Street, NW1 7BU.
The Camden Head, 100 Camden High Street, NW1 0LU
Camden People’s Theatre, 58-60 Hampstead Road, NW1 2PY
Tristan Bates Theatre, 1a Tower Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9NP
The Gatehouse, Highgate Village, N6 4BD
Check out the Camden Fringe website for full details and bookings.