Review of Fringe30 by Stephanie Billen

Buxton Opera House, Friday, November 7 2008

Stars from the Buxton Festival Fringe came together to entertain some 200 people at the Buxton Opera House's Fringe30 evening on Friday November 7.

Thanks to the Opera House's support, this show to celebrate the Fringe's 30th anniversary in 2009 was probably the best-value Fringe event ever with over three hours of fun ranging from surreal outbursts from comedian/poet Tam Hinton, to George Telfer's remarkable mini one-man-shows portraying John Gielgud, Prince Philip and Richard Burton. A real variety show, Fringe30 was hosted by genial singer Sam Dunkley and included sets by singer Katuš, dancers Spiltmilk, Buxton's own Three's Company and others - all for a remarkable £8 a ticket.

The fun began before the curtains even opened as the upstairs bar showcased a superb display of art from previous award-winners including Robert Wilson, with his exciting collages, and Michael Beecher with his extraordinary ceramic Buxton Babylon tower complete with tiny books.

The arriving crowds were also entertained by Shakespeare Jukebox, a roving local duo offering extracts from plays in response to audience requests. Nor was there any let up during the interval as Matt 'Lab Monkey' Pritchard wandered through the stalls delighting people with his close-up magic.

Throughout the evening there was a real sense of camaraderie and overwhelming support for the Fringe. All the artists were performing for no fee and Katuš explained how she had changed her flights, delaying her trip to Los Angeles in order to perform. The eccentricity of the Fringe was fully captured: Three's Company chased a rope off the stage and back again, Tam Hinton confessed how difficult it had been to construct a poem bereft of all meaning, and Katuš beatboxed with a flute. At the same time George Telfer showed his simple, indisputable talent as an actor and Amaretti Chamber Orchestra performed as they always do, beautifully. With the Fringe now officially open for 2009 entries, we can only hope and expect that the superb standard will be maintained next year.

Friends of the Fringe, VIPs and those involved with the show stayed on for a party on the Opera House stage with excellent food provided by the Buckingham Hotel.

For further information on the Fringe including how to become a Friend of the Fringe and how to enter, explore our website or come to the AGM at 7.30pm on Tuesday November 18 at the Old Hall Hotel, Buxton.