On the Fringe: London’s summer theatre season
Things certainly aren’t going to be slowing down in the capital over the next two months, even if there is a famous fringe festival happening in Edinburgh. New writing, revivals and fresh adaptations will be springing up across London in what they’re telling us will be the hottest summer in 100 years. While Ian McKellen heads the Chichester Festival Theatre transfer of King Lear at the Duke of York’s Theatre, Soho Theatre revives Vicky Jones’s daring relationship comedy The One with Tuppence Middleton and John Hopkins, and Andrew Scott stars in a two-week run of Simon Stephens’s Sea Wall as part of the Old Vic’s 200th Birthday celebrations, there is plenty happening on the London fringe throughout the summer season, including some alternative new writing festivals and plenty of family friendly outdoor theatre.
Fun Home at the Young Vic
Photo: Marc Brenner
While its sold-out run of The Jungle transfers to the West End this summer, the Young Vic brings Fun Home to its main stage. This musical, based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel exploring her past, her family and her sexuality, has a creative team that includes Jeanine Tesori, Lisa Kron and director Sam Gold. There’s a lot of excitement around this Broadway transfer – it won five Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Score – that draws on the comic book elements of its source material to tell an original and powerful story.
Fun Home is at the Young Vic from 18th June until 1st September 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here. Read our review of Fun Home here.
This three-week festival at the King’s Head Theatre will showcase 35 works by emerging companies and is a valuable celebration of new writing that aims to give up-and-coming writers, actors, directors and companies a professional platform to showcase their work – a number of shows will be directed by graduates of the theatre’s Trainee Resident Directors scheme. According to the venue’s artistic director, Andrew Spreadbury-Maher, this year’s programme boasts an “unapologetic collision of genres”, with performances of one-woman shows, verbatim pieces, musical theatre and cabaret on subjects ranging from the criminal justice system to mental health and post-traumatic stress to family and friendship.
Playmill Festival is at the King’s Head Theatre from 2nd until 21st July 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Bluebird at The Space
The Space’s in-house theatre company Space Productions 25th show will be a revival of Simon Stephen’s Bluebird, which had its first professional production at the Royal Court Theatre in 1998. The play follows taxi driver Jimmy Macneill (Jonathan Keane) and his brief but haunting interactions with the people of London as he drives them through the night across the city, eventually unearthing the protagonist’s own secrets through his relationship with his ex wife (Anna Doolan). This burgeoning fringe venue supports new talent and Space Productions’ previous shows include plays by new writers such as Fulfil Me Fully, Phil, which was nominated for two Off-West End Awards in 2012, as well as classics like A Doll’s House and Terry Johnson’s stage adaptation of The Graduate. This production celebrating the 20th anniversary of Stephens’s breakthrough play will be a “re-definition of a modern classic”.
Bluebird is at The Space from 24th July until 4th August 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Camden Fringe Festival
Photo: HiddenViewz Productions
The capital’s alternative to the Edinburgh Fringe – and now in its 13th year – Camden Fringe Festival will bring theatre makers from across the UK to the borough and beyond. 2018’s very varied programme boasts the bold and experimental work we’ve come to expect from this event. There are an array of genres and delights to suit almost everyone. We suggest you check out this exciting line up, which includes: Brighton Fringe Award-winners Leigh McDonald and Joanna Eden’s Crash and Burn, which will take audiences “through the highs and lows of womanhood”; She’s a Good Boy, a play about non-binary gender and how we define ourselves; Super Hamlet 64, a spoken word piece that draws on videogames and Scott Pilgrim vs the World to tell the Bard’s most famous tragedy in a way we’ve never seen before; brand new work Face to Face from HiddenViewz Theatre, a company with a focus on bringing social and political stories to the stage; and an improvised road-trip movie, Open Roads, performed live using audience song suggestions to stress the significance of a good mixtape for every journey.
Camden Fringe Festival is on across various London venues from 30th July until 26th August 2018. For further information or to book visit the festival’s website here.
The Three Musketeers at St Paul’s Church
This outdoor promenade performance in the grounds of St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden promises to be something special and is perfect for young families. Award-winning theatre company Iris Theatre has previously featured Shakespearean texts and classics like Treasure Island in its summer season and this year brings us a re-gendered production of The Three Musketeers. Here, the great d’Artagnan (Jenny Horsthuis) disguises herself as a man in order to become a musketeer, displaying her wits and capability and overcoming all nature of odds to remind us that we are not defined by our gender.
The Three Musketeers is at St Paul’s Church from 2nd August until 2nd September 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
London’s Free Open Air Theatre
Back again after a great run last year, London Free Open Air Theatre at the scoop presents two plays, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and King Arthur, in one free event. The company focuses on producing interactive and accessible shows in diverse spaces – and these performances are often the first experience of theatre for some of their youngest audience members. Multi-award winner Phil Willmott directs both adaptations (with Justin Murray for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), bringing fresh retellings of two classics to a new generation of theatregoers.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz & King Arthur is at The Scoop from 8th August until 2nd September 2018. For further information visit the festival’s website here.
The editorial unit