Today my post is about an exciting London-based theatre festival, the “Camden Fringe.” The “Camden Fringe” was created by female producers Zena Barrie and Michelle Flower (go women in production!!). The two had previously produced live shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. In August 2006 they set up the first Camden Fringe Festival, which included 57 performances by 22 acts over 4 weeks. The Camden Fringe now encompasses the full length and width of the borough of Camden with participating venues stretching from Highgate to Covent Garden!
The Camden Fringe show I was lucky enough to see was called “Nuclear Winter” by Anthony Fairweather. The show program describes the plot as follows,
“Daniel has been surviving his cold and dark Nuclear Winter in a Fallout Shelter constructed only of words; words both desperate and uplifting, so confused and yet so clear…He is now trying to transmit these confused and clear words to a world that is clearly confused…Jenny is a journalist who is trying to help him do just that in a strange tale of life, love, deception, and lies where nothing is quite what it seems…”
Basically, the main character Daniel has had a mental breakdown and has compiled a book of poems that he wrote post-breakdown. Jenny is a journalist who is interviewing him about his book and the inspiration behind it. Jenny has her own skeletons in the closet, and it is revealed that she too has had a breakdown, though under entirely different circumstances then Daniel. The content is pretty intense but the writing is quick and sharp. Usually I find myself caught up in the spectacle of a show and tuning out of the words. But in this case, it was the words I focused on and the performance I tried to tune out.
Not that the performance itself was that bad. From what I gather the actors and the crew had only a few practices a week before the performance was set in front of an audience. But it could definitely have been more polished. Actors interrupted each other (unintentionally) and faltered with lines. The two leads, even though their memorization wasn’t perfect, each had great, emotional moments in the play. Especially Siobhan Schulz, the woman who played Jenny. I loved the emotionally strained scene where she finds out her husband has been cheating on her with her sister for four years behind her back!
Side note: This play was put on in a nice pub down in Camden and was set in a very small room. Now I’ve been to a couple of shows where cell phones go off, but at this particular show, there must have been 5 people who’s phones went off. One man even had the nerve to answer it! As the Brits would say, very cheeky indeed!
Regardless of the etiquette of the audience and the roughness of the blocking/technical errors in the performance, I really did enjoy my first experience of the Camden Fringe. The play itself was really enjoyable and I thought the message was very important and came across in a smart and intelligent manner. Congratulations to Anthony Fairweather, (this play is his very first!). I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the future!
** More information about the “Camden Fringe” past and present can be found below: