Sunday, 22 July 2018

New writing takes fringe centre stage

FRINGE festivals provide one of the few platforms available to showcase new writing, and this year’s Henley Fringe will feature

FRINGE festivals provide one of the few platforms available to showcase new writing, and this year’s Henley Fringe will feature several new plays.

First up is a one-act play written by Bridget Fraser of Barn Galleries in Henley. Vintage Luggage is about a group of old friends — vintage car enthusiasts — who meet up in France. There are a couple of new faces but even so, what could possibly go wrong? Answer: everything from sex life to spark plugs.

The “lighthearted” play is directed by festival founder Jo Southwell and features a cast of professional actors, including Henley-based Kevin Cormack whose previous theatre work includes a role in The Life Of Mother Theresa in Camden.

Bridget, who has also written fiction, poetry and children’s stories, said she is very much looking forward to the fringe, which takes place from July 20 to 28.

She said: “We are so fortunate to have so much going on around Henley. It has become a hub for various festivals and events are well supported by enthusiastic audiences. I am delighted that Vintage Luggage is to be professionally produced as part of the Henley Fringe. It promises an evening of light comedy in the true English tradition.”

Vintage Luggage will play at Henley Town Hall from Wednesday to Friday, July 24 to 26 at 9pm. Audience members are encouraged to dress up in Twenties or Thirties style to add to the vintage atmosphere.

Meanwhile, another actress and playwright from Purton near Watlington will also be showcasing new writing.

Liz Mente Bishop, nicknamed the “Watlington Whirlwind” by a BBC Radio Oxford DJ, has set up her own production company specifically for the week-long festival. MB Entertainment will produce and perform four short plays by Paul Ekert in an hour-long show called Burst.

She said: “I wanted to get into the Henley Fringe — that in itself was a motivator to start the company — and I’m really excited about doing it. I’m really proud of the show. The four plays are brilliant and we’re having tremendous fun.”

Liz will be joined on stage by her production company partners, Warren Brooking and George Lamptey, both of whom she met while training as an actor in 2011.

Three of the plays — T42, Holding On and Being Dead — are existing new works by the playwright, but the opening play of the quartet, Being Dumped, was written specifically for MB Productions.

Liz said: “They are all comedies but based on the dark side of life. Being Dumped is about the agony of dumping someone or being on the receiving end of being dumped.

“Holding On is about a guy committing suicide, but it is a comedy. George is playing a serious Thespian type who’s written a play that goes horribly wrong, and Warren plays a man who has lost his dog. He is chatting away to him blissfully unaware that he’s about to throw himself in the river.”

Each of the plays is only 11 or 12 minutes long, and Liz added: “We wanted to showcase our ability to portray lots of different characters at high speed with really funny scripts and give everyone a fun time. If the actors are having fun, then the audience is having fun.”

Burst plays at the King’s Arms Barn in Waitrose car park from Monday to Saturday, July 22 to 27. Tickets are £7.

For Fringe Festival tickets visit www.henleyfringe.org

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