Jane Austen, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump on the Camden Fringe Festival bill
PUBLISHED: 08:00 27 July 2017
While the cats are away in Edinburgh, the rest can play around north London at Camden’s alternative fringe
The Camden Fringe sees 270 different shows including plays, comedy, children’s theatre, circus, dance, music, spoken word, cabaret and magic taking place at 22 different venues.
Now in its 12th year, it was founded by Zena Barrie and Michelle Flower as a London summer festival for audiences and performers unable to make the annual trip north.
Camden venues taking part include Aces and Eights, Camden People’s Theatre, Cecil Sharp House, Canal Café, The Washington, Proud Camden, the Lion and Unicorn, London Irish Centre, Upstairs At The Gatehouse, and the Moors Bar in Crouch End.
Meanwhile in Islington the Hen and Chickens, The Bill Murray, Houseman’s Bookshop in Caledonian Road and The Star of Kings in York Way are all in on the act.
On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, (July 31) The Shaw Theatre in Euston hosts an original musical adaptation of Persuasion with music from Austen’s manuscripts and the Regency era performed by a chamber orchestra.
Then there’s Boris the Musical at The Cockpit which follows the rise fall and rise again of the ex London mayor with songs such as Born To Rule, Talking About Brexit, BeLeave! and Me and My Johnson.
Billed as ‘the tragicomic tale of Britan’s finest politiclown told through the medium of song’ Blowfish Theatre’s ‘anti-musical’ was originally staged last year to critical acclaim.
It was the “glorious two days after the referendum when Boris was heckled in the streets” that inspired soft-Remainer Laurence Peacock to write it.
But its early beginnings came when he wrote ‘The Ballad of Boris Johnson’.
“Our take on Boris is that he plays the clown,” says Peacock.
“But it always struck me that it worked very well. We all remember when he got caught on a Victoria Park zip line and responded “I heard Ken Livingstone set [it] up. It’s been said that the normal rules of politics don’t appear to apply to Boris but after the Referendum he seemed to have lost the opportunistic power-grab and in a terrible tale of tragic art he became a clown”. Peacock, Director Kyle Williams and composer Hollie use “mockery and juxtaposition to take pot-shots where we can without any qualms.”
But since there’s a real chance Boris could reach the highest office, it’s also a tragicomedy.
“Someone has to lead the Tory Party after Theresa May,” says Peacock.
“Ultimately we’re more of an entertainment than a theatre company and proud of it. We want audiences to leave the theatre happier than they went in.”
Also a surreal comic musical Grab ‘Em By The Pussy examines the “mass normalisation of sexual harassment” exposed by Donald Trump’s infamous recorded confession.
In an era where women daily endure unwanted advances, lead character Maisy is on a quest to be fondled. Singing songs such as‘No One Will Let Me Blow Them’ and ‘I Can Carry Heavy Objects Long Distances Without Needing a Rest’ there’s a bit of bum slapping, cat calling and a mute grim reaper figure who regularly dashes in to grab the audience
Although concieved before Trump’s line the subsequent womens marches made the project “so relevant” says writer Caroline Buckley. Her show was inspired by real events when she and friends “were in jumpers, giant coats, with scarfs around us; looking like a mess. The only place we could find a drink was below ground in a club-like area and then repeatedly, people were approaching us in really forward ways.”
Shortly afterwards women were protesting carrying placards saying “This is what we are wearing.”
Take your knitted pussy hat along for a satirical night out.
The Camden Fringe runs from July 31 to August 27 camdenfringe.com