Posts Tagged ‘Camden Fringe’


Camden Fringe: Programme and Venues now online

Friday, 25 May, 2012

Camden Fringe launched its programme on 1 June 2012

Camden Fringe launched its seventh successful year on 1 June.

Full programme is live at from today. Camden Fringe runs for four weeks between 30th July and 26th August, taking in venues like the Etcetera, Camden People’s Theatre, Upstairs at the Gatehouse and covering comedy, drama, music and a whole lot more.


Helen O’Brien: Bronagh’s Big Weekend

Friday, 5 August, 2011

Irish Eyes, Smiling at the Sheephaven Bay

Helen O'Brien is Bronagh

Bronagh is 13. It’s 1987 and everything is about to happen. This is a really charming and at times poignant one woman show from a ‘Funny Women’ finalist.

Bronagh has years since (tearfully) given up ballroom dancing in favour of the traditional Irish stuff (Riverdance and all that) and the rhythms of that music have penetrated her every waking hour. The setting is Oldham and Bronagh (even her name seems awkward to her) is on the cusp of many things. There is the increasing lure of 14 year old Kieran, her bridesmaid dress for her cousin’s wedding, not to mention the mysteries of tampons and Southern Comfort and how to deal with the aftermath of both when there is a ‘Feis’ (an Irish dancing competition – pronounce it ‘fesh’) to be dealt with too.

Bronagh’s recounting of the wedding, which for Bronagh starts with a sick page boy and ends with an uncomfortable snog, is very funny, and will add to the popular mythology of Irish weddings, where hopeless optimism mixes with large quantities of stout and lager and – in this particular case – the new husband has a chair smashed over his head by the bride’s father, roared on by a baying chorus of four-square bridesmaids.

I’ve probably revealed too much about the plot already, but if you have any Irish ancestry, you’ll enjoy this glimpse into one family’s chequered past. And if you don’t, then you’ll have a good laugh and learn a lot about Irish dancing.

Writer/performer: Helen O’Brien

Reviewed Thursday 4 August 2011

© Michael Spring


The 2011 Camden Fringe kicks off on the 1st of August

Wednesday, 13 July, 2011

500 performances in 17 venues

A few last minute additions to the programme mean that there are now over 500 performances scheduled for this year. These will be taking place in 17 different venues in the Borough of Camden, from Highgate to Bloomsbury.

Shows taking part in the festivities include:

Arabella’s Revenge (4-5 August at the Camden Head) a dark piece of comic clowning about a 4 and a half year old psychopath in training.

Familiar Change

Familiar Change (11-12 August at the Lomax Carpark) is a devised physical theatre performance, which follows the lives of four characters living in a London estate. Taking place in a car park.

The Year of Being A Squirrel (11-13 August at the Etcetera Theatre) a one-woman piece of comic storytelling by Alys Torrance who has previously been seen on the Camden Fringe with Faultless and Torrance in 2009 and Infectious Stories in 2010.

There are many, many more shows to read about in the brochure or online.


Announcing Camden Fringe 2011

Tuesday, 25 January, 2011

Camden Fringe 2011 – lots of changes, and building for the future

The Camden Fringe will be back from the 1st to the 28th of August 2011 and is now taking applications from performers.

This year’s changes include new venues, new ways of programming and a new pricing policy, geared to building Camden Fringe for the future.

2011 marks the 6th year of the Camden Fringe which has been growing steadily each year. From 57 performances in 2006 to 652 in 2010, last summer 13,800 paying customers came through the doors – up 30% on the previous year.

Applications for this summer will be welcome until the 31st March. As well as the Camden People’s Theatre, New Diorama, Etcetera Theatre, Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Camden Head and Roundhouse,  venues currently looking for shows include The GBS Theatre at RADA, The Shaw Theatre and the new Grand Union Theatre in Kentish Town.

With a growing number of performers and venues wanting to be involved in the Fringe, something had to give and so, in 2011, the way that the Fringe is programmed is changing. In the past the Camden Fringe has placed all the shows in venues, but this year the venues will get to select their own shows.

As always Camden Fringe will include a wide range of shows. In fact, the change in policy means that it is easier for companies to find their own unusual or site specific venues especially for their show. Longer and more complicated performances will be more easily accommodated into the schedule for individual venues. The application process for performers is as simple as possible and is almost identical to previous years, with the essential difference that the application will be sent directly to selected venue(s).

These changes should benefit everyone – venues will have more control over the shows in their space, performers will have a closer relationship with the venue in the run up to the Fringe, punters will be offered a wide range of shows in a wide range of venues and the bigger festival should be easier to organise.

After 5 years of pricing all our tickets at £7.50, that policy is changing. Ticket prices will be different for each show and concessionary tickets will be available for the first time. Because the type of shows at the Camden Fringe varies so widely – from simple one man stand-up shows, through children’s puppet shows to longer dramas with high production values and casts of 25 – the costs of mounting them varies a lot as well and this will be reflected in the price to customers. Some shows will cost less, some will cost more, most will stick around the £7.50 mark.

The Camden Fringe will also be hosting a stage as Part of the Comedy Crawl at the Camden Crawl this spring.

For more information on the Camden Fringe please contact Michelle at the Etcetera Theatre: 020 7482 4857,


The Sharp Sisters

Wednesday, 18 August, 2010

A Museum of Curious Revelations

Etcetera Theatre, 16th-18th August 2010 (1 hour)

The Sharp Sisters

The Sharp Sisters are Alice Parsloe and Lesley Cook. They are joined by Romy Tennant and together, they present us with many curious characters.

The evening begins with the unveiling (literally) of the lady, who (for reasons which are to become obvious) would never allow her betrothed to kiss anything more than her hand. She’s followed by Rippling Rhona, who, despite her small stature, can rip books apart. (Just be sure not to make her angry!)

So far, it’s all amusing, but fairly standard stuff, and since the only props on the stage are a couple of curtains strung across dress racks and some additional clothes, you wonder how the evening is going to move on. But then, very suddenly and quite stylishly too, we’re behind the scenes, and all is not well in the Museum.

Threatened by political correctness, will the Museum survive? Will the new and slightly more raunchy acts secure the future of the freak show under another name? Can Rippling Rhona get to university? And will the lady with the cleaning fetish manage to impose order on her world?

These – and others – are the stories that gradually unravel throughout this fast-paced show with its myriad of costume changes, some dance, a very funny flash of neo-puppetry and some clever tricks of stagecraft. The players have a lot of presence throughout and have to cope with the fact that often just a change of hat and accent marks one character out from another, but that too is done with panache. Each character manages to appear as fairly sharply delineated, which itself is a testimony to the collective performers.

This is a production which has clearly been worked over for some time. It is played with a lot of energy and, despite the small space and the limited time available for costume changes, it is very slick indeed.

As for the comedy, it more often consists of gentle smile stuff, rather than things to laugh out loud at, but its impossible not to feel some genuine affection for these characters and the players who bring them to life.

Cast: Lesley Cook – Ethel Sharp/Rhona/Deirdre; Alice Parsloe – Sybil Sharp/Domestic Goddess/Tessa/ Protestor; Romy Tennant – Wilma/Bernie/Bloody Mary

Crew: Artistic consultants – Clare Lindsay and Sarah Marks; Lighting – Heather Rose; Sound – Jayne Allen; Stage Manager – Kate Reaney

reviewed 17 August

(c) Michael Spring 2010


The Fantastic Reality of Frederick Goodge

Wednesday, 11 August, 2010

Inside the eye of your mind

London – Etcetera Theatre – 5 – 11 August 2010 – 21.00 (1:10)

This is a one-man play or show (depending on your point of view), written and performed by Gerry Howell.

Gerry Howell is Frederick Goodge

Frederick Goodge is the character that Gerry Howell inhabits rather than performs, an ordinary man, although one with extraordinary dreams, and an extraordinary perspective on ‘reality’, whatever that might be.

Into his character’s ‘reality’, a lot of other people thrust themselves, sometimes as references, sometimes appearing on the stage to be ‘played’ in turn by Frederick Goodge in a mad imitation of drama.

It is in Orpington swimming baths that Frederick Goodge fleetingly gets to meet the girl of his dreams, but the course of true love does not run smoothly for him, as he becomes caught up in a fiction of his own making, as well as Croydon, home of Peter Sarstedt, whom he is determined to visit.

Let’s be fair. Frederick Goodge’s singing voice may not be up to much, but his search for the writer of sixties hit “Where do you go to, my lovely?” does lead him to trumpeter Penelope (whose name means ‘weaving’ or something) and to a jazz festival in Juan les Pins (which – eerily? – was mentioned in the Sarstedt song).

The twists and turns of this extraordinary story are too convoluted to describe here, even if I could remember precisely how Frederick becomes an employment agent or why he feels he has to break in to a very tall building (reminiscent of a vegetable) to rescue the lover of his fictional heroine from suicide.

It is, quite simply, that kind of show, performed with relish by Gerry Howell, whose inspiration comes miscellaneously from Albert Camus, TS Eliot and other literary greats. This show apparently, began as a novel. Now, it is a very entertaining hour of performance comedy.

Performer: Gerry Howell

Reviewed 10 August 2010

(c) Michael Spring


It Is Rocket Science

Thursday, 5 August, 2010

Verdict: Onward to Mars

London – Etcetera Theatre – 3 August 2010 – 21.00 (1:00)

Helen Keen with some of her props

Helen Keen is an engaging character, a self-deprecating thirty-something who lives in a converted garage in Ruislip, she’s not quite living the 21st Century, city bachelorette lifestyle that she might have imagined for herself. Nothing too dramatically different there perhaps, but her show, called It Is Rocket Science allows her to talk – very entertainingly – about herself and her background, as well as about her fascination with space and space exploration.

It has to be done with a certain style of course, and this tour of the universe takes place with a number of charming, but not too polished props that allow her to demonstrate the quirkiness of this area of scientific endeavour.

Perhaps every area of science has its weirdnesses, but the fact that America finally put a man on the moon owing largely to an uneasy collaboration between a Nazi and a satanist is just one of the facts that Helen Keen brings into the open.

There are a lot of other such coincidences and accidents of fate along the way.

For this show to succeed, it needs some audience participation and Helen Keen certainly got a lot of it (perhaps a little too much?), the audience fully engaging with a need for someone to adopt the character of Patrick Moore (and to read nuggets of wisdom from one of his books on space), as well as to take on new characters and nationalities for their part in this light-hearted evening.

One of the key props is a tinfoil-covered rocket shape, which includes a screen through which Miriam (no second name given) projects some simple but wonderful shadow-shapes in the best tradition of children’s television or perhaps the booth at the village fete. It is all very charming and gently funny.

There’s also a lot about the pioneers who first envisaged, then calculated, then made a reality of space travel. She brings their stories to life in a fusion of stand-up comedy and light-hearted descriptions of the characters and accidents that surround man’s attempt to break free from the planet.

Cast Credits: Performer – Helen Keen; Shadow puppets – Miriam

Reviewed 3 August 2010

(c) Michael Spring


The Twenty-Minute Policy

Thursday, 5 August, 2010

Verdict: Divergent views

London – Etcetera Theatre – 3 August 2010 – 19:30 (1:00)

There are three tables and three chairs. It’s reminiscent of the exam room at school, but it’s not. This play is set in a nameless institution where two women, deprived of liberty, are awaiting the arrival of their visitors.

Tess and Lisa

Strangers meet in The Twenty Minute Policy

World-weary Tess (Charlotte Sutherland) sits at an adjacent table to the passive, slightly bovine Lisa (Gigi Burdorf). Tess is as taut as piano strings, playing a frenetic spoilt brat (her visitor, her father is never late, she tells us) with a gift for irony. Lisa who wants nothing more than to have a chat and get on with people,  is awaiting the arrival of her sister.

The unseen presence throughout the play however, is ‘The Book’. The Book contains the rules of the institution, which include (of course), the twenty-minute policy that gives the play its title. Something though, seems to have gone wrong, The Book and its rules and regulations seem not to be working. And so Tess (who is determined to push the rules to the limit) and Lisa (whose existence almost depends on the rules) each try to undermine each other’s comfort zone.

There are some sharp lines and clever writing here, and the thing is played fast, Tess often clipping over Lisa’s responses. There’s a lot of wit on show too, but it often hovers around the sitcom level, rather than really probing deeper.

Even when the hapless Andrew (David Swain) arrives, an employee of the institution looking for somewhere quiet to eat his lunch, things don’t get too much clearer. The rules aren’t quite rules, it seems. It’s almost as though writer Trent Burton is telling us that nothing ever does get resolved, no prejudices can quite be undermined by argument. We believe what we want to believe.

Having said all that, this was an enjoyable production, marked by some concentrated performances from the chief protagonists and directed with some wit by Melinda Burton. David Swain too, wrings every ounce of presence out of his diffident and put-upon character. Tiffany Hudson, responsible for sound and lighting, will have had a busy night – every so often mysterious doors clang shut somewhere and a choir sings. More mystery, never quite resolved.

Reason and belief, rules and logic are the subjects of this play, which often flirts with territory that might well have yielded more momentous and thought-provoking conclusions. Instead, it opts for comedy, rather than anything darker, despite the potential of some well-drawn characters.

Cast Credits: Lisa – Gigi Burdorf; Tess – Charlotte Sutherland; Andrew – David Swain

Company Credits: Writer/producer – Trent Burton. Director – Melinda Burton. Sound and lighting – Tiffany Hudson.

Reviewed 3 August 2010

(c) Michael Spring