Taking a staycation? No holiday at all? Locked in London for the rest of the sweltering summer? Hooray! You can come to the Camden Fringe. Bigger, better and more pigeony than ever before, the sparky young pretender to the deranged and sprawling Ed Fest throne bursts out all over Camden from 3 to 30 August with 399 performances of 118 different shows across 4 venues. Michelle and Zena are the plucky pair that somehow make it all happen and we pinned them down mid-madness for the view from the inside:
What on earth drives you to do it?
Since we were teenagers our summers revolved around the Edinburgh Fringe, and once we took over the Etcetera Theatre we decided to try and recreate the madness in London. It wouldn't be August if we weren't manically busy, not eating or sleeping properly and sitting in hot rooms watching shows.
What are your hopes for this year's Fringe?
This year we hope expand our audience and sell lots of tickets! We've already got more shows than ever, so the word is spreading. We want acts to enjoy performing in Camden and learn a lot from being part of the Fringe. We'd also like our punk pigeon logo to become a cult icon - we've already had a few posters with him on stolen!
You've added the Roundhouse Studio Theatre this year - are you trying to take over Camden one venue at a time?
Camden has quite the tradition for fringe theatre and there are loads of venues in the area, so it will take us a while to take control of all of Camden, but eventually we will! Mwa ha ha ha.
What sums up your last year's Fringe?
M: Having 4 people crammed into our tiny office all shouting over each other in the mornings and how different the office we use year round actually felt, because there was a very exciting buzz about the Fringe. I also loved the last night when the team all stood at the back of the Camden Head to watch the last show - Robin Ince's School for Gifted Children - swigging Cava out of the bottle. Being ridiculously tired and really satisfied that the 4 weeks were over, but had been so much fun.
Z: One of the most exciting things for me last year was seeing a few of the same people popping up at different venues with their programmes, ticking things off, taking a chance on people they'd never heard of, coming out of shows and saying "that was bloody awful, what should we go and see now?". People were getting into the festival spirit! If that can grow this year then I'll be very happy indeed.
Why should our readers take a chance on a Camden Fringe show?
The Camden Fringe is a bit like a bag of Revels - some things won't be to your taste, others will be delicious. And how much fun is a bag of Revels? Tickets are £7.50 which is less than a cinema ticket or a couple of pints and you'll get a unique live experience for your cash. Try and find something that appeals to you, but the secret is a bad show is often just as entertaining as a good one.
Book now! The Camden Fringe runs from 3 to 30 August at Etcetera Theatre, Camden Head, Camden People's Theatre and the Roundhouse Studio. Full programme online: all tickets £7.50. Still not sure? Check out some of our own past experiences of the Camden Fringe. And, of course, we'll be all over it like a heat rash.