Tuesday, 03 August 2021

Comics fit the bill for six days of fun on the fringe

A SIX-DAY feast of comedy is in store from Monday — when the theatre part of

A SIX-DAY feast of comedy is in store from Monday — when the theatre part of this year’s Henley Fringe and Film Festival gets under way.

A total of 11 comedy acts will be performing over the course of the week — with four appearing on one night as part of Tuesday’s Comedy on Water event at Hobbs of Henley.

Another four will be previewing their Edinburgh Festival shows — starting with Will Duggan and Tom Ward at the Three Tuns in Market Place on Monday night.

Isle of Edna will perform their show Welcome to G Street at the same venue on Thursday and Friday.

Then on Friday and Saturday, Punchline Theatre will present Go Go Power Rangeurs at Badgemore Primary School — one of two new venues for the festival, which is now in its ninth year.

The other is Rupert House School, which is hosting Page 2 Stage Productions’ take on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night from Monday to Friday.

The same company is behind Alice — an original adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass that is playing at Badgemore Primary School for all six days of the festival.

Intended for children and families, the show’s start times are 11am on Tuesday to Saturday, 1.30pm on Monday, and 4pm on Monday to Friday.

More adult fare comes in the form of Somewhere Under the Rainbow — a poignantly titled one-act musical set in Liza Minnelli’s dressing room — and the critically acclaimed drama Nine Suitcases, based on the Second World War experiences of the Hungarian-Jewish author and journalist Béla Zsolt.

The venue for both is the Town Hall Chambers, with Somewhere Under the Rainbow running from Wednesday to Saturday and Nine Suitcases on Friday and Saturday.

Festival organiser Jo Southwell said she was delighted to have Badgemore Primary and Rupert House on board this year.

She said: “As a very small charity the festival requires lots of support and drive from local people and companies to make it work. The schools were really supportive and innovative — they wanted to be involved and support a local event.”

Asked which shows she was most looking forward to, she added: “The Edinburgh previews in the Three Tuns are all fabulous and a must-see. I’d like to encourage everyone to get down to them.”

Opening proceedings on Monday night is Will Duggan in his only appearance at this year’s festival. His show A Man Gathering Fish runs from 7.30pm to 8.30pm at the Market Place venue.

Will has been a jobbing comic since 2009, mixing stories and gags with a cheerfully cynical view of the world.

Last year he supported Justin Moorhouse on tour and performed at the Edinburgh Festival as part of The Lunchtime Special and The Big Value Comedy Show, both of which were regularly sold out.

Next up on stage at the Three Tuns on Monday is Tom Ward, whose show Sex, Snails and Cassette Tapes starts at 8.45pm.

A writer, filmmaker and voiceover artist, Tom made a name for himself in comedy by reaching the finals of the Leicester Square New Comedian contest in 2013 and the BBC Radio New Comedy Award 2014. His wittily inventive style, which makes the most of his talent for voiceovers and improvisation, has seen him forge a unique path in the industry.

On Tuesday night he is one of four acts taking part in Comedy on Water at Hobbs of Henley alongside Pierre Novellie, Darren Harriott and double act Norris and Parker.

Born in Johannesburg but raised on the Isle of Man, Pierre is widely regarded as one of the the UK’s best up-and-coming comedians, having appeared on BBC Three’s Edinburgh Comedy Fest Live and the 4OD series Taxi Gags. He learned his trade as a member of the Cambridge Footlights, of which he was vice-president, and co-wrote and starred in their sellout 2012 international tour show Perfect Strangers. Notably, he was the first comedian to perform at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, even though his degree was in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic Studies.

Darren Harriott is a hit on the live circuit, having moved to London from his native Birmingham. A confident performer with a captivating charm, his comedy deals with everything from subverting stereotypes, to everyday observations, to that juiciest of topics, religion — all with a cutting edge and a great beard.

For their part, Katie Norris and Sinead Parker promise to lure you into their web of dark and surreal comedy like two black widows in Lycra. Hailed as fearless performers, their latest offering All Our Friends Are Dead is a wild and ridiculous hour of sketches, characters and songs weaved within a narrative of underlying aggression between Norris and Parker themselves.

The third Edinburgh preview of the week is Welcome to G Street by comedy duo Isle of Edna, aka Anna Brook-Mitchell and Angela Nesi. As they put it: “There’s nothing worse than being caught short, thinking you’ve found a public toilet and then discovering it’s actually an artisan bakery. Welcome to G Street.”

Taking their influence from The League of Gentlemen, French and Saunders and Monty Python, Anna and Angela were inspired by the changes happening in their local area of Homerton in East London.

After joking about a café in a public loo and then finding that one had opened on their very street, the pair created Isle of Edna, named in honour of a bulldog called Edna.

Accompanied by their live pianist Ben-Trification, aka Ben Wiles, the show features interwoven sketches, songs and character pieces with the aim of enveloping the audience in the absurd (but all too familiar) world of gentrified G Street.

Last but not least, the fourth and final Edinburgh preview of the festival — Punchline Theatre’s Go Go Power Rangeurs — comes to Badgemore Primary School on Friday and Saturday from 7.30pm to 8.30pm.

Artistic director Matt Lim said: “Go Go Power Rangeurs is a parody update inspired by the popular hit series, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

“Our show looks through a postmodern lens at one of the most beloved franchises in television history, simultaneously questioning and celebrating the issues of gender and race representation as presented to us all those years ago, growing up as fans.”

Full listings and ticket prices are available on the festival website at www.henleyfringe.org. To book, click on “Fringe 2016” then “Tickets 2016”.

The “film” half of the festival will take place at the Henley Regal Picturehouse over the weekend of September 3 and 4. Full details will be made available on the website nearer the time.

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