And welcome to the 44th year of the Buxton Festival Fringe!
It has kicked off as has become usual with a launch party hosted by Underground Venues who have now reached 'adulthood' in their 18th year! Congratulations on that milestone folks.
The party was introduced by the incomparable Tom Crawshaw of UV who gave us a range of top tips on getting through the next three weeks of the third largest festival Fringe in the country - yes that's right! A big thank you for those Tom. Our compere for the evening was a chap called Edy Hurst, who happens to have two shows in this year's Fringe. We were taken up and swept along on a wave of Edy's infectious enthusiasm and he proved more than adept at keeping the whole party going. I'm now looking forward to seeing his shows later in the Fringe.
The Fringe Launch party is about giving us a taste of what's to come, and we were treated to snippets from a range of shows and genres. First up was a taste of fun-loving Annie & Angela's Disco Divorce Party followed by the Spanner In The Works Theatre Company and their production of 'What if', a story set in the aftermath of the 1993 Shankhill Road bombing. The company won our Theatre Production Award in 2021 & 2022, so they are no strangers to us. A scene might not do a whole production justice, but that was not the case here. We saw enough to tell us that you really should go see this when it plays on the 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th July.
Blue Badge Bunch was our next show preview, and as you might expect 'disability' features. Who said you can't be funny and disabled? Clearly not Ingenious Fools the troupe behind the show, and they have have three different shows here this year! The audience loved it - go and expect audience participation!
Fringe regular and award winner Egriega gave us an intriguing glimpse into his new show, ...A Problem with Clowns. It looks to be a touching, funny and gentle peek behind the mirror we all have - it plays on the 15th/16th/20th/22nd in the Rotunda Bubble!
Local artists play a huge part in the Fringe and one of our strongest traditions is in theatre. The Buxton Drama League gave us a scene from Two by Jim Cartwright. Beloved by theatre fans, BDL look as if it's going to have a full house or two at the Conservative Club on the 14th/16th/22nd July. We also got a short set from Fringe regular Darren Poyzer who got the audience singing, especially as there were no fascists in the house! Darren is back with his 'A positive mental health songbook' (cos 'The' is arrogant!) on the 8th/16th/21st July - make sure you ask for the kebab joke.
We were also treated to prizes, yes prizes! Of course, we had to earn them with participation in Fringe Charades with Tom and Anna doing the business, and there were even more prizes with the raffle!!! Wouldn't you know it, Fringe Chair Stephen Walker won a prize - but it wasn't fixed we were assured...
So, it looks to be another great Fringe this year, but remember, the Fringe is nothing without its audience, so get on down and support your local Fringe!
Ian Parker Heath