Camden Fringe is back.
Returning for its 17th year, the performing art festival runs from 31 July-27 August 2023. Expect an explosion of theatre, stand-up, comedy, dance and spoken word performances, spread across Camden's many small venues. It's an intimate and quirky way to catch both new and established acts.
The first Camden Fringe was back in 2006, heralding a less spendy alternative to the Edinburgh Fringe (for people who don't live in Edinburgh, anyway), and since then has grown and grown. This summer, nearly 300 (!) performances take place over 24 different venues. And not just in Camden... a handful of shows spill over the border into Islington and Westminster too.
With such a glut of stuff to see, we've compiled a handful of highlights that sound particularly good fun/intriguing — but do browse the full programme. And get booking... some shows are already selling out!
COMEDY: Improv the Dead: A must-see improv for fans of the apocalyptic. An audience suggestion is used to recreate a lost zombie movie where anything can happen, and the only certainty is an abundance of fake blood. Hen & Chickens Theatre, 2-3 Aug.
COMEDY: Release: A satirical conversation between two women in two adjacent toilet stalls (with "musical tendencies") performed by Two on Top Theatre Company. Rosemary Branch Theatre, 2-3 Aug.
DANCE: Flamenco: Orígenes: An opportunity to be immersed in the culture and history of Andalusia via the unique art of flamenco, courtesy of Lourdes Fernández and her Flamenco Company. Etcetera Theatre, 2-6 Aug.
OPERA: La Cenerentola by Opera Kipling: An accessible re-imagination of a classic Rossini opera, with a Cinderella fairy tale twist. Includes subtitling in conjunction with Sign Supported English. Upstairs at The Gatehouse, 3-6 Aug.
COMEDY: Beat Inflation with Sue the Cleaner: Worried about inflation? Watch out Martin Lewis, because Sue the cleaner and her assistant (Liam Harney and Rhyan Orrick) are here to offer advice. Hen & Chickens Theatre, 8 Aug.
COMEDY: Matt Green - That Guy (Work In Progress): A Camden Fringe regular with his first new show since the pandemic, Matt Green is renowned for his online comedy videos "featuring jokes about politics and jokes not about politics". The past few years have no doubt given him plenty of material. Aces and Eights, 8-11 Aug (although 11 Aug is now sold out)
COMEDY: Showgirl: Rachel Fairburn is known as "the rock'n'roll star of British comedy", but has she mellowed too much? See this WIP for a steal, before it goes on a 36-date tour around the UK. 2Northdown, 8-12 August.
KIDS: Cricket & The Freebugs: While most things at Camden Fringe is for an adult audience, Bob & The Gang are providing something for the little 'uns for much of the fringe's run. Cricket & The Freebugs is a whimsical soul and funk-infused kids' musical, about the adventures of Cricket as he forms a band. Dwell House Studio Theatre, 9-27 Aug.
COMEDY: For The Last First Time: Composer and improviser Fraser Parry, and writer and star of SeanceCast Charlie Dinkin, join forces to create a surreal world in which an intern makes the best of a hostage situation, and a recently divorced dad builds a new life in the Metaverse. 2Northdown, 9-10 Aug.
DANCE/SPOKEN WORD: Phrases: A hard-to-classify one-man performance by Lewys Holt that "continually shape-shifts between PowerPoint presentation, dance performance, stand-up set, private conversation, and storytelling recital". Sounds intriguing. Hen & Chickens Theatre, 11-13 Aug.
THEATRE: Transparancy: Transgender man Jaden Adams plays a young forklift driver, whose mum discovers he is trans before he's ready to come out. The show, says Adams, "is about what it is like to be northern, working class and trans." Camden People's Theatre, 15-16 Aug; Upstairs at the Gatehouse, 20 Aug.
COMEDY: Absurdocles: An improvised Greek tragedy that deals with love, loss, pride, power, and the fraught relationship between gods and mortals. Prepare to laugh your sandals off. Camden Comedy Club, 17-19 Aug.
THEATRE: The Girl With The Glass Heart: Incredibly talented 17-year-old actor, playwright and songwriter Cait Roddam Jones makes her Camden debut with a story about a young woman dealing with the demons of her past. Camden People's Theatre, 20-21 Aug.
COMEDY: Farm Fatale: Kate Norris, one half of the unimpeachable Norris & Parker — and Winner of the Musical Comedy Awards 2023 — goes it alone, with this WIP, which had a fantastic name, and which tbh we know little else about. We can almost guarantee it'll be amazing though. Museum of Comedy, 24-25 Aug
SPOKEN WORD: Wish You Were Here: Described as an informal postcard addressed to friends, lovers and past selves. Philip Ofe and Rhian Parker recount their travels abroad — traversing new experiences, complicated strangers and the confidence to go it alone. Hen and Chickens theatre, 27 Aug.
For those who want to take a peek behind the theatre curtains, this year Camden Fringe has launched a podcast — Camden Fringe Pod — which includes interviews with a variety of artists and industry insiders.
Camden Fringe festival runs 31 July-27 August 2023. All images courtesy of Camden Fringe.