The sixth Camden Fringe has closed and its organisers and volunteers can finally get a proper lie in. It's been ace again, with outstanding gems accidentally uncovered, many good shows and a sprinkling of terrible ones - such is the nature of fringe festivals. We continue to love the Camden Fringe but we wonder whether Camden does... we say next year, get it out on the streets and into the market. Camden, embrace your fringe!
What we saw
The Chairs was unexpectedly brilliant. Picked at random from the programme for its convenient time, this tragic absurdist play by Ionesco had us gripped. The elderly couple, seemingly at the end of the world and teetering on the edge of sanity, were class acts, utterly convincing, even though what was actually happening is obscure. The same couple were also delivering Ionesco's The Lesson a couple of hours later and we were very sorry to miss it but the Camden Voyeur did not. We would jump at the chance to see Atelier Theatre again. (LC)
The Accomplice felt like a play that needed a script edit but survived and entertained thanks to a strong performance from prostitute Jennifer, making no bones about the realities of life as a working girl but provoking dark laughs a plenty. Shy but defiant, middle class waitress Catherine is less convincing at start but warms up with wine (was that real booze?) but quite why she would pick up a hooker as a travel mate and trust that all will be well is narratively unclear. What is clear is that you can't hear a Eurostar announcement from a Heathrow hotel so that ending needs a tweak. (LC)
The Observatory was a culmination of a masters project by three very different artistic individuals, who all state that being a performer is not their defining role. This was evident when their inability to capture initial audience laughter seemed to lead to a loss of conviction in their performance. What they were trying to do was an interesting idea; playing with audience participation; moving us around, feeding us biscuits, giving us heaps of sand to hold, but trying to also weave together some 1800's astrophysics history, give us fractured emotional snippets of their own pasts, and throw in lots of complex science facts made this 'seminar performance' hard work, and quite awkward to watch. They say their work is for 'scientists who want to know more about art, artists who want to know more about science,' but from the audience's reaction, it looked like neither set took much from this work. (JB)
What others saw
Fringe Review thought Oblivion, a "simple fascinating journey into the lives of a few Waterloo road style teachers and their friends and family" was outstanding and highly recommended How To Climb Mount Everest, "a delectable circus of puppetry, mime and high energy action".
Snipe caught work in progress, Taniwha Thames and the shape of things to come from the piece are good.
On The Fringe were ready to hate Olympic play, Swifter, Higher, Stronger but couldn't help warming to this "very well composed and highly enjoyable show".
What did you see? Let us know in the comments.
Many thanks to Jemma Bicknell, Lise Smith, Joel Golby, Rachel Holdsworth and Bethany Childs.