Everyone’s heard of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Each August it dominates the culture supplements in newspapers, the winner of the newcomer award is reported in the national news and guaranteed rock-god-like status and the big names in theatre and comedy sell thousands of tickets.
So it was in 2006, that Bedfordians James Pharoah and Richard Mann began working on a professional show to take to the Edinburgh Fringe. Their theatre company, Future Legends, produced a show featuring Alex Perkins (The Office/Foyles War) and they headed over the border. Impressed by the sheer volume of events that came under the Fringe banner, they believed that something similar (although just a tiny bit a smaller) could be achieved in Bedford – and Bedfringe was born.
“Richard and I felt that Bedford would embrace something like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, so when we returned we began the process of establishing the framework for the first Bedfringe. Our aim was to bring a mix of professional and local talent to a variety of venues in the town,” said James. “The first Bedfringe took place in 2007 over one week with a total of 35 shows. We received support from local businesses – many who are still sponsors five years on – and we made a profit!”
Building on the each year’s successes, Bedfringe has gone from strength to strength. And while it might have been slightly under the mainstream radar, those in the know have embraced Bedfringe as the place to see Edinburgh preview shows and top name acts for a fraction of the price and at quirky venues.
“This year’s event is our most ambitious yet. A fortnight of over fifty performances in venues including The Place Theatre, The Corn Exchange, The Devonshire Arms, Esquires and The Bedford Swan Hotel. In addition, We Are Bedford is hosting a Busking Festival in locations throughout the town, so wherever you are, you are likely to be able to enjoy an element of Bedfringe,” said James.
The full programme of events can be found in the Listings pages of The Clanger and there is more information about the Busking Festival on page 2, but if you want the lowdown from James on what you really can’t afford to miss, here are his top three recommendations:
8.30pm 29th July at The Place Theatre
Tickets: £7.50 (£5.50 concessions)
“Don’t worry if you haven’t seen Bone I or II, this really is an unmissable show,” says James. “We didn’t have enough room in the programme to list all the awards Joe Bone has won for this instalment of the Bruce Bane trilogy. Suffice to say, The Guardian called it ‘A brilliant hour of comedy theatre… widescreen thrill with zero props’, so you’ve got in on good authority that this’ll be well worth seeing.”
From The Clanger’s point of view, just to know Joe holds the Guinness world record for most characters performed by one actor in a show is enough to convince us!
Hired hand Bruce Bane steps out in the latest instalment of Joe Bone’s high-octane one-man film noir parody. And this time he’s shooting first and asking questions later.
Having escaped the clutches of Shelby Carpenter in his first outing (Outstanding Theatre Award-winner, Brighton Festival Fringe 2009) our tireless anti-hero returned in March this year with more shadowy encounters of the hard-boiled kind. After pitting his wits against an army of new adversaries, he skipped town double quick, leaving a trail of collateral damage and the mother of all cliff-hangers in his wake…
Now Bane is back, working the mean streets of pulp fiction once again in another frenetic showdown. Playing all the parts (and then some!), Joe Bone brings this quick-fire comedy to boiling point with just his body, his voice and a live guitar soundtrack from one-man Morricone, Ben Roe.
The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre Company
7pm 29th July at The Place Theatre
Tickets: £7.50 (£5.50 concessions)
“Previewing their Edinburgh Fringe show, this is your chance to finally appreciate just how funny socks can be,” says James.
The stars of BBC3’s Comedy Shuffle, MTV, GMTV, 4 whole seconds on The Culture Show – and now BBC1’s The One Show – bring you a brand new show of songs, sketches, socks and violence.
The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are a comedy double act who have been compared, favourably, to Morecambe & Wise and Abbott & Costello, with a contemporary style which has seen them featured on shows as diverse as The Culture Show (those four seconds count!), The One Show, and Big Brother’s Little Brother.
Their songs and sketches, which are regular hits on YouTube as well as knockouts live, include such satires on modern life as The Facebook Song, Vuvuzela and Swine Flu, and their versions of films, TV and plays from Star Wars to Downton Abbey.
Makoto Inoue – Richard
4pm 24th July at The Place Theatre
“We’re thrilled that the winner of this year’s Inspiration Award at the Prague Fringe Festival, Makoto Inoue, is brining his interpretation of Shakespeare’s Richard III to Bedfringe,” said James. “This performance forms part of the Free Fringe Weekend, so it’s absolutely free.”
‘Richard’ is based on William Shakespeare’s Richard III. Using traditional Japanese dance fused with modern Western European street styles this is the first mime show of its kind.
“Who am I? Why do I live? What do I remember? … I am Richard”
Finally – your chance to experience neo-Japanesque mime art in Bedford!