PREVIEW: Camden Fringe – Theatre

The Camden Fringe has been playing for a week with plenty of theatre, comedy and more popping up all over the borough. You can find out more about the festival here, and catch up on the comedy highlights here, but below is a run-down of some of the theatre programme continuing throughout August:

Sonder – The Cockpit | 6-8 August

This piece of physical theatre focuses on the concept of ‘sonder’ – the realisation that each stranger and passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. Centrality theatre company are presenting the piece in conjunction with Birmingham charity St Basil’s to raise awareness of homelessness in Britain. Performers Grace Bussey and Rosanna Stanton told me “it’s about opening your mind to the people around you on the street. You can see the same people everyday and you never talk to them and don’t register what’s going on with them.” It’s a striking concept to bring to London, notoriously the city where no-one speaks to each other on the tube, and it will be interesting to see how the show link this idea with the aim raising awareness for the homeless.  The company is made up of recent graduates from the Birmingham School of Acting, and Sonder is their debut production. Catch them at The Cockpit tomorrow night for their final show. More information here.

Garden of Eden – Hen and Chickens | 8-9 August

Garden of Eden - Hen and ChickensThis contemporary adaptation of the Adam and Eve story is all centred on power struggles within a relationship and had a rehearsed reading at the Rag Factory a couple of years ago. Writer and one half of the cast Marie Myrie has now developed the work further for its first full run, in her first appearance at the Camden Fringe. This twist on the biblical tale delves into the psychology of the original couple as they contemplate the consequences of consuming the forbidden fruit, accessing limitless knowledge and trusting each other. More information here.

The Girl and the Box – Etcetera Theatre | 10-14 August 

“A show for grown-ups and growing-ups”, The Girl and the Box tells the tale of a girl who one days decides to give away all her bad emotions – a quirky concept to start with. I met co-founders and performers Hannah, Isobel and Jesselyn at the Fringe’s media launch, and they explained the consequences of the story’s beginning: “Over the years she realises that without fear, she can’t feel bravery; without sadness, she can’t feel happiness”. Therefore, the heroine embarks on a journey to reclaim her lost emotions, meeting along the way many “weird and wonderful creatures”. With physical theatre, puppetry, acro and original live music, it’s an intriguing piece for all ages from Camden Fringe newcomers Fable Top Theatre. More information here.

Krool Britannia – Rabbit Hole | 12-28 August

Krool Britannia - Rabbit HoleA twist on the kind of ‘morality play’ piece that you might remember watching in school assemblies, this piece has been written and developed by teachers who should have plenty of insight into the topics at hand. The show takes a look at the pressure put upon teenagers at school – and what might happen if these pressures push them to the brink. If this all sounds a bit gloomy, the team promise plenty of humour to shine through the darkness. The show can be seen in the Rabbit Hole, the dinky underground space at the Duke of Hamilton pub in Hampstead. With over two weeks of performances, there’s plenty of time to fit this show into your Camden Fringe schedule. More information here.

The Fellowship – Hen and Chickens | 14-19 August

Set in a pub (The Eagle and Child) and staged in a pub (Hen and Chickens), this UK premiere from Hodgson Creed Productions reimagines the meetings of C.S Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The piece explores the unlikely bond between a devout Catholic and an ardent non-believer, as they swap tales of dragons, elves and Norse mythology on the way to creating the imaginary worlds of Narnia and Middle Earth. More information here.

Sellotape Sisters – Tristan Bates Theatre | 15-20 August

Signal Theatre describe their fictional legendary 60s soap opera as having “the pretensions of Downton, the production values of Crossroads“. Desperate for storylines for their final episode, the writers delve into the private life of their lead actresses, exposing their secrets. But will the cast stick to the script? Billed as “Noises Off meets The Killing of Sister George via Acorn Antiques“, this outrageous, farcical and heartfelt new work is penned by Lee Mattinson, a former writer for Coronation Street. It’s certainly something a bit different, and worth heading down to the Tristan Bates Theatre for a fun comedy frolic. More information here.

The Real Girl – Tristan Bates Theatre | 16-20 August

The Real Girl - Camden Fringe

A girl wakes up in hospital dressed in a superhero outfit, with a bump on the head and no memory of how or why she’s there. Here begins Cherise Stefanie’s The Real Girl, and after this wacky opening, all the memories and experiences related on stage are true to life. Just as Caitlin Moran has written on How To Be A Woman and How To Build A Girl, this show looks at how a ‘real girl’ is formed, through a lens of gender identity. Stefanie demurred away from calling this a feminist work: “It’s all done really light-heartedly, because I didn’t want to write a diatribe about gender and the oppressed. I wanted to make it a humanist play, not feminist”. I find it a slightly odd differentiation – can feminism not be light-hearted? – but those who define as feminists and those who don’t will surely find lots to enjoy in this one-woman show about forming your own identity, encompassing a slew of wider issues along the way. Interestingly, it’s the first time that Stefanie has gained Arts Council funding writing a female character, as previously she’s felt she had to write male characters to find support. “For me it marks something really important in my career”, she told me, “finally writing a piece as a woman and not getting dismissed”. More information here.

Swipe – Hen and Chickens | 18-21 August

Six women tackle the murky world of modern online dating. Comprised of true stories collected from real women, the show consists of a series of scenes with an intertwining, overlapping story arc connecting each character. The New Match Collective is a newly-formed all-female company with several links to East 15 drama school; it’s an international affair, with members from the UK, USA and New Zealand. A modern company looking at modern topics – this is the kind of work we want from our Fringe festivals. Catch it at the Hen and Chickens pub in Islington. More information here.

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