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Around the Fringe
Published 21/07/14

A FEAST of theatre, comedy, music and film is on the menu at the seventh Henley Fringe Festival from Monday, July 21 to Sunday, July 27.

Past festivals have seen entertainment as diverse as comedy on water, Shakespearean tragedy and musical theatre.

Organisers say this year’s programme has been created to attract even the non-theatre-goer. A film festival event has been established, with entries from all around the world. Screenings will be at the Regal Picturehouse.

Comedy, stand-up and sketch shows will be staged at the King’s Arms Barn and the Three Tuns. There will also be a selection of family shows, including The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse by Fringe favourites Falcon Grange productions.

Here’s a snapshot of just some of the Fringe shows on offer...

n ARE middle-aged women an endangered species? Who says they’re too old for careers, sex, and a social life?

Those are two of the questions posed by Women of an Uncertain Age, a comedy sketch show by Flip Webster and Maggie Bourgein.

Through sketches, songs and dance, Flip and Maggie share coffee ice-cream, hip-hop moves and what it means to be 50-plus in the 21st century.

Subjects tackled include parents who won’t grow old gracefully, to Botox or not to Botox, and how to make easy money at home with your telephone.

Scott & Bailey and Nigella all get the Flip and Maggie treatment and in another era, two ladies straight out of Jane Austen don’t discuss “women’s problems”.

Flip, who has worked in all media, notably on the BAFTA award winning Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and Maggie who has worked extensively in theatre including productions of Oh! Calcutta! and Blue Angel, decided to create the show to represent women over 50 in a way true to life so that people can actually relate to them.

They have performed in front of mixed audiences, ranging from 19-year-old students to people in their 80s.

The show, which lasts 60 minutes and has an age limit of 14-plus, is on at the King’s Arms Barn from Monday, July 21 to Friday, July 25. Performances from Monday to Wednesday start at 7pm and on Thursday and Friday at 6.45pm.

n The dangers of the internet and our obsession with privacy are the themes of Edinburgh preview show Casual Encounters, a dark comedy by NoLogoProductions.

It’s the story of James and Jennifer Rogers, who have been seeing a marriage guidance counsellor.

When she tells them they should try something new, James decides this can only mean one thing - wife-swapping. Not that he’d want the neighbours to know, and to keep his new hobby a secret he’s been trawling the internet to find a suitable couple for their first casual encounter.

What he and Jennifer haven’t realised is not everyone tells the truth online. They find this out the hard way when Peter and Annette Morgan enter their house.

Wife-swapping is not the only thing their guests have in mind for the evening, and worrying what the neighbours will say could be the least of James and Jennifer’s concerns.

Casual Encounters was originally created for a new writing festival at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, where it was voted best runner-up by a panel led by One Man, Two Guv’nors writer Richard Bean, who commented: “Terrific, very funny, brilliant use of gags.”

NoLogoProductions are a Surrey based drama company, showcasing original material.

Casual Encounters is on at Henley Rowing Club on July 21, 22 and 26. Shows start at 8pm.

n A’Nother Productions presents soprano Debbie Bridge playing the title role of musical superstar wannabe Anita Boult in Miss Givings, a play with music which will show in the Market Place on Tuesday, July 27 at 7.30pm.

Anita’s just moved back home. Not to mom and dad’s, you understand, just out of New York and back to Peekskill, and it’s NOT an admission of defeat, just a strategy for recharging batteries and planning a new assault on Broadway. Observe, then, as Anita seeks to affect her return to the bright lights, grappling with hostile agents, indifferent casting directors, doubting parents, demanding boyfriends and, worst of all, high school rivals still somehow hogging the local limelight.

Meantime, Anita will treat her audience to gems known and lesser known from such American songwriting legends as Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Amy Beach, Aaron Copland and George and Ira Gershwin.

The script is by award winning Robert Cohen, whose one-man show The Trials of Harvey Matusow was staged recently at the Tristan Bates Theatre in London.

nEver wondered what it’s really like to be a comedian? What do they get up to the rest of the time when you don’t see them on stage? How do they come up with their material?

Mark Restuccia will take his audience through a day in the life of a comic, showing that it’s not as easy as some make it look.

He’ll discuss travel or rather the comedian having no choice in doing a lot of it and, in Mark’s case, developing a romantic relationship with his satnav as a result; being bored in the daytime Starbucks and leaflet-distributors are good, prank-based cures; and being paid peanuts for which he has no solution.

But he’ll also talk about the plus points, such as being able to sit in the front row of a comedy gig without fear, making strangers listen to problems, and having permission to insult people without getting punched.

Mark is a veteran of the Henley Fringe. This is his third solo stand-up hour and is full of brand new material.

Mark’s stand-up career has seen him reach the finals of the BBC New Comedy Awards and receive accolades as the Leicester Square Theatre Comedian Of The Year.

Mark writes and performs sketches and ITV2’s Gagging For It and BBC3’s The Wall have both featured his work. He also appeared on ITV4’s FHM Stand Up Hero. He is at present on a stand-up tour of the UK.

l For full details of the Fringe programme, venues and ticket prices visit www.henleyfringe.org

PUBLISHED 21/07/14

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