Get ready for the Fringe Festival

Buxton Festival Fringe is preparing for another bumper event with 181 entrants, as performers now see it as part of the Brighton-Buxton-Edinburgh circuit. 

The comedy section is the biggest ever and is packed with originality. Look out for Australian stand-up Adam Vincent, award-winning spinster agony aunt Ms Samantha Mann, The Big Fat Running Show, punster Darren Walsh. Also performing are Hancock impressionist James Hurn, Covent Garden’s Mike Raffone, Nathan and Ida from The Dead Secrets, Fringe favourite Nathan Cassidy, Owen Roberts of The Beasts, award-winning Harriet Braine and Upstart Crow’s Rob Rouse. 

The Kagools, are back with their family-friendly, non-verbal comedy, a hoot from start to finish, and one half of The Kagools, Claire Ford will be doing some clowning of her own in her new show, Unboxed. 

The other Kagool, Nicola Wilkinson, will also be stepping out as a solo act, her show, Happy, offering stand-up, party games and, intriguingly, pies.

Comedy does not have to be frivolous, which is proven by Steve Day: Adventures in Dementia, a bittersweet exploration of his father’s Alzheimer’s and Mandy Toothill’s Twin Peaks, which finds the comic laughing in the face of breast cancer.

Theatre treats include new writing from award-winning James Beagon in Antigone Na H’Eireann; X Factor finalist Seann Miley Moore (pictured above) in Guy: A New Musical from the award-winning Marriage of Kim K team Leoe&Hyde; and NoLogo Productions present A Beginner’s Guide to Populism – a dark comedy following the fortunes of the political opportunists, zealots and spin doctors who jump on the bandwagon when the village of Little Middleton fights plans to become part of a garden city.

The merrily-macabre  Sylvia Sceptre presents Phantasmagorical, a show of spooky mind-reading and Victorian Spirit Theatre. This is as close as you will get to experiencing the thrills of the Golden Age of Spiritualism. You will witness a supernatural spectacle of stories and magic, swirling with dark whimsy. 

Sylvia Sceptre, is a character devised by Careena Fenton. She blends storytelling, drama and magic, ensuring this powerful piece of theatre resonates in the minds of the audience long after the performance is over.

There will also be two plays from award-winning Sudden Impulse; comic monologues from Radio 4 writer Kate Perry, and Trapped – physical theatre inspired by the trapped Chilean miners – performed in Poole’s Cavern with moments of complete darkness.

The Green Man Gallery – Buxton’s artist-run hub for all things cultural – has become an important player in the Theatre category at the Fringe with an eclectic collection of six plays this year. PB Theatricals return with Pint-Sized Pinafore, an abridged performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta which is on at the Rotunda as well as the Green Man Gallery, so there are plenty of opportunities to catch it.

Music remains a major category with diverse attractions including jazz singer Annette Gregory, early music specialists Partita, acclaimed pianist Eden Walker, character musician Egriega, City of Manchester Opera, Mr Simpson’s Little Consort, French countertenor Adrien Mastrosimone, Vision, a candlelit show of medieval music starring Blake 7’s actor Jan Chappell as Hildegard of Bingen and international pianist Jill Crossland, who will be making her Buxton debut with a recital on the United Reformed Church’s newly restored 19th century Broadwood piano.

In smaller categories, the true variety of the Fringe becomes clear, with everything from grumpy-old-man spoken word from The Glummer Twins; circus and street performance via Fit Up’s Fringe on the Market; Autopoiesis: an extraordinary art installation in the basement of a bungalow; major exhibitions such as the Derbyshire Open and the Great Dome Art Fair; an invitation to be entertained inside the historic Pump Room on Friday 13th, and some “disgusting” children’s songs courtesy of Radio 4 performer Jay Foreman.

There are three managed venues this year – Underground Venues, The Rotunda and The Green Man Gallery, plus a great many events taking place around the town, in Poole’s Cavern and in the Pavilion Gardens as well as in outlying venues and occasionally in villages outside Buxton.

Fringe chair Keith Savage said: “I saw my first Fringe event in 1990 but 28 years on the excitement of going through the programme picking out shows to go and see is as real as ever. For 2018 there are opportunities to see new faces to Buxton, catch up with those missed on previous visits as well as the pleasure of welcoming back friends from past festivals.

“We are grateful for the continuing sponsorship of the University of Derby, and would like to thank the Trevor Osborne Charitable Trust and High Peak Borough Council for financial and practical support.” 

Here are some more highlights:

Author Michael Sheath has now added two more monologues to The Wife’s Story from last year’s Fringe to create  Crossing The Line, a powerful, moving and thought–provoking drama telling the hidden story of the effect of abuse on three very different women: the wife; the detective and the mother. All are played by actor Joanna Lavelle at The Palace Hotel on July 12, 13 and 14. 

Presented by award-winning company Certain Curtain Theatre, Woman on Fire recounts the turbulent life and times of Mrs Edith Rigby – mild-mannered doctor’s wife, with a secret identity – that of arsonist, bomber and jujitsu-trained militant suffragette, Burgage Institute, July 7 and 8.

Eglantyne is an inspiring new solo play about Eglantyne Jebb, the visionary, courageous, passionate, social reformer, human rights pioneer and founder of Save the Children, The Old Clubhouse July 5, 11, 12 and 18.

Strife In A Northern Town is a fast-paced, funny play that tells the tale of the inhabitants of a random northern town, and how their lives begin to unravel due to the decisions of the local council. It stars Manchester based actors Jennifer Banks and Tracy Gabbitas. The Old Clubhouse, July 10, 11, 19 and 22.

Mrs Simpson’s Little Consort return with Purcell’s Sweet Torment – three afternoon recitals of songs and music by Henry Purcell, Monteverdi and Caccini. The “torment of love” is the theme. St Peter’s Church, July 20; St John’s Church July 21 and Eyam Parish Church, July, 22.

A full list of events can be found on the Fringe website