On Saturday (11th Sept) I was invited to the Bread and Roses in Clapham to celebrate the upcoming 2021 Clapham Fringe Festival. Many of the artists involved were gathered, and there was a wonderful energy as we chatted away in the pub’s beer garden. It is such a joy to see fringe theatre bursting with life. There was a tangible sense of anticipation and excitement shared by the artists about performing to live audiences after all this time.
The Clapham Fringe will be running at the Bread and Roses from Wednesday 22nd September until Sunday 10th October, and it offers an action packed schedule of shows, from comedy to drama, made up of a mix of fully developed shows, rehearsed readings and work in progress pieces.
Here are few of the shows I will be checking out and reporting back on:
Jam Tart, Lemon Kurd is made up of two monologues by two different playwrights (Rhiannon Owens and Nick Maynard), connected by the fact they feature women over 50 (Claire is 54, while Cathy is in her 70s). Billed as being in the same vein as “Talking Heads and Fleabag” I am excited to see a show that celebrates new life, love and adventures in later life. You can find out more here, including a link to their youtube trailer: https://www.claphamfringe.com/jam-tartlemon-kurd.html
Written and directed by Nick Card, Strangers is billed as a dark and disturbing play about just how connected we might actually be to someone we think is a stranger. This show has had an online life during lockdown, with my fabulous fellow mytheatremates reviewer, Elaine Chapman, rating the online zoom performance 4 stars. Recommended audience is 16+, so not one to take the kids to. You can find out more here: https://www.claphamfringe.com/strangers.html
I had a lovely chat with Helena Collins O’Connor, who is the writer and performer of this semi autobiographical piece, Auto-Engrain. We talked therapy, gaslighting and abusive relationships. O’Connor has ambitions to expand this piece out further, and would love to take it to universities, and places she can reach younger people. Sadly we aren’t educated about what red flags we should be looking out for in a relationship, often having to learn the hard way. I’m really looking forward to seeing this one-woman, fourth-wall busting show. You can find out more here: https://www.claphamfringe.com/autoengrain.html
This is a show I couldn’t squeeze into my schedule when it ran as part of Camden Fringe, so I’m really glad to be given another opportunity to see A Masterclass with Cumley St. Claire: Freeing the Florist Within. We are invited to meet Cumley St Clair, “the nation’s most notorious florist” and be given a masterclass by “one of the most disruptive voices in floristry”. I fully expect to leave the theatre knowing very little about actual floristry, but hopefully I will have had a good few laughs. Only time will tell, this may be the beginning of a new career for me. You can find out more, and check out their youtube trailer here: https://www.claphamfringe.com/a-masterclass-with-cumley-st-claire-freeing-the-florist-within.html
And these are just the shows I’m managing to see. There are more I’m sad to be missing, and would see if my diary allowed. My FOMO list includes:
- Amy Rushent’s Pride running 3rd & 4th October – “A radical experiment in queer protest, joy and liberation”
- Taioyo Yoshida’s Scum running 5th & 6th October about cleaners Claire and Fiona, who dream of other things
- Laura Thomas’ RIP Everyone, Eventually on 10th October-“Janey Toot is a fiery northern Nan who has no interest in throwing herself out of a plane for the sake of a bucket list”
And I could go on and on, but you are best off going to the website and having a good explore, as this really is only the tip of the Clapham Fringe iceberg. With many shows only on for 1 or 2 performances, I’d book soon to avoid missing out. And why not see a couple of shows while you’re there, you can grab a bite to eat in the pub between them, I have it on good authority the Tater Tots are amazing.
You can jump down the Clapham Fringe rabbit hole here: https://www.claphamfringe.com/