Festival Preview: The Camden Fringe

If you read the arts pages in the national press, it can feel as if the whole world decamps to Edinburgh in August.

But while the Scottish capital is clearly the place to be for theatre-philes, the rest of this fair isle is not exactly culturally lacking over the summer. There is plenty of interesting, experimental work around, if you know where to look.

Case in point: the Camden Fringe.

This is the third year that this small north London arts festival has been running and it now encompasses three venues: Camden People’s Theatre is now on the bill, along with the Etcetera Theatre and Liberties.

The 2008 line-up features a diverse range of shows from new, young companies and performers (and some more established names Scott Capurro is on the bill), a mixture of theatre, music and comedy, with a good few that fall somewhere in between. The festival also has a distinctly international flavour, showcasing work from all across Europe as well as from America. The eclectic line-up includes Clarissa and Her Cardboard Box, a show based on Dutch cabaret from London based performer Clarissa Widya. Then there’s Fabrizio Pagan’s portrait of an Italian queer protest singer Faby Licious and a dance show called Alfilere De Colore, a new piece by Taconeo Grupo Flamenco, a flamenco company whose members hail from South African, Japan and Sweden (but not from Spain). France is well represented, both by Echange Theatre, who will be performing Bal Trap by French playwright Xavier Durringer, and by Parisian company Head-Langue Thtre, who will be performing a new work called Les Anges De l’Enfer, a physical performance piece set on the Paris Metro system.

From the other side of the Atlantic there’s Ipanema Bossa Nova, a musical show compiled from familiar tunes by Brazil’s most famous composers. There’s also the intriguing if slightly alarming prospect of a musical written by South Park creator Trey Parker and going by the title Cannibal – The Musical.

The four week festival also includes a one man show about a pigeon, a homage to Saturday night telly, some “erotic magic realism”, a series of short plays inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner, a show called Boredom (which is set in a brothel) and Hello, a production that aims to be the world’s shortest play.

The Camden Fringe line-up features particularly rich pickings for those interested in poetry and spoken word, with appearances scheduled from performance poet William Stopha and stand-up poet Jude Simpson, as well as from Joe Hakim and Mike Watts.

It may not have the breadth or buzz of Edinburgh, but for those in London this August, the Camden Fringe offers the chance to see something new and different and still make it home on the tube.

The Camden Fringe runs in venues across Camden from 28 July 24 August 2008

The full programme is available on their website

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