I haven’t checked but I probably haven’t written a blog since last year’s round-up – I have actually, on books, art, theatre, I just haven’t managed to edit them and get them posted – but it’s about time I shared my highlights of Buxton Fringe 2018. After all, its three weeks since it finished. On the other hand, I’m ahead of Chris Neville-Smith! Though I am keeping a close eye on his Edinburgh tips for my impending trip, as well as his as it happens coverage.
So, without further ado, etc etc
Garry Starr Performs Everything
Wow! He does perform everything, and he’s brilliant. Damien Warren-Smith as Garry Starr is on a mission to save theatre by performing every single genre within an hour – and he may just have pulled it off. There is so much energy and exuberance in a show that goes way too far, but with such charisma that you can’t help but go along with it. Of the shows I reviewed for Fringe Guru this was a red hot five star highlight. Garry Starr Performs Everything in Edinburgh this summer, find him at Underbelly Cowgate.
Nathan and Ida’s Hot Dog Stand
Simply the loveliest show of the Fringe. Nathan and Ida (also of the Dead Secrets) tell the story of a famous Coney Island Hot Dog Stand, with such warmth and love. With wisecracks, dancing and bucket-loads of charm, Nathan and Ida overcome bad guys and bad ideas (clam on a stick, anyone?) to triumph. Guaranteed to leave you feeling warm and happy, next to be found at Camden Fringe.
Gerard Harris – Attention Seeker
At the other end of the comedy spectrum, Gerard Harris is a storyteller, think Ronnie Corbett with tourettes and ADHD. He’s an edgy performer, but this is an incredibly well constructed show as he deconstructs how he’s at times sabotaged his own career as a stand-up. If his second show hadn’t clashed with the next show on the list, I’d have been straight back to see it again.
Frank Sinistra: Sex, Drugs and PR – Egriega
After the success of last year’s Mr Different, Pieter Egriega has brought us a new character in Frank Sinistra, an obnoxious ex-News of the World journalist, running a PR consultancy for dubious politicians and celebrities, and of course singing a series of new songs just perfect for the character. Year after year one of the most creative artists we see returning to Buxton. Long may it continue. Plus, brilliant piano-playing from Charles Ormerod.
It’s perhaps an unpromising title, but what an original and inventive show, with just flour and water Helen Ainsworth literally creates her central character, and generates so much thought-provoking drama with a flighty bag of flour, a stolid water jug and a posh teapot. Amazing. Richard Stamp put it perfectly in his review – no matter how many Fringe shows you’ve seen, you’ve never quite seen it all. A thoroughly deserved winner of Buxton Fringe’s prestigious John Beecher Award.
There was so much else to enjoy in theatre, Jack Brosnan in Sudden Impulse’s Sea Wall was an astonishing acting performance, Extremism from Shadow Syndicate was as classy as ever from this super youth theatre company, and Leoe &Hyde followed up the success of The Marriage of Kim K with the warm-hearted and intelligent new electro-pop musical, Guy.
In comedy, Ms Samantha Mann was wonderful as ever in a new show, Behind the Agony, and I really enjoyed Harriet Braine’s new show, plus the reliable quality of Nathan Cassidy, and a new one for me, Gemma Arrowsmith’s witty and thought-provoking Earthling.
What else? Adrien Mastrosimone’s Une Vie en Rose, a loving tribute to Edith Piaf, went down an absolute storm. The quality and variety on offer was a joy, and the beauty of a Fringe like Buxton is that there is a lot going on but you can feel in touch with everything and not too overwhelmed. Mind you, I didn’t get to see the winner of the theatre production award, On Behalf of the People, but that is almost traditional!
So, another great Fringe, the people are lovely, the weather was great, and I still can’t watch the Shakespeare Jukebox without ending up dancing round the witches’ cauldron, or providing thunder effects for the Tempest.