On the fringe: Great shows in north London this summer

Bella Bevan in Better Than Sex: The Story of Mae West

Bella Bevan in Better Than Sex: The Story of Mae West - Credit: Hana Kovacs

With theatres finally back up an running properly after the end of restrictions, there are many great plays, musicals and comedy to catch this summer.

Although the Edinburgh Fringe is on in August, many shows that would have headed north in normal times are staying put.

The Camden Fringe looks set to be the best yet, but there are plenty of other gems to discover – here are just some:

Aaaah…I’m Jewrotic And I Blame My Jewish Mother…Who Else?

Henry (Churney) Churniavsky’s comedy show finds humour in family life and what it means to be Jewish in 2021. His material is broad – neither family friendly nor adults only. He has been a stand-up for seven years, performing internationally and at the Edinburgh Fringe. All the profits go to mental health charities. 

August 18-22, Etcetera Theatre, Camden 

Camden Fringe: https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/performances/aaaah-im-jewrotic-and-i-blame-my-jewish-mother-who-else-3/ 


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All's Well That Ends Well

Troubadour Stageworks presents an outdoor production of Shakespeare's love story. One-sided affection, kidnapping, disguise, this play has it all. Grab a picnic and enjoy the show.

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August 7-8, Charterhouse Square, Barbican

http://troubadourstageworks.eventbrite.com/

Artificial Insmelligence

This new comedy play from writer Louis Fonseca imagines a world in which artificially intelligent beings are indistinguishable from humans. They exist to improve our lives, but at what cost to humanity and at what cost to the Ai’s own newly discovered psyches? 

August 6-8, The Hen & Chickens Theatre, Highbury

Camden Fringe: https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/events/artificial-insmelligence/

Artificial Insmelligence

Artificial Insmelligence - Credit: Artificial Insmelligence

The Bacchae

This version of Euripides' play is adapted and directed by Maria Makenna. Dionysus is the God of drugs, debauchery and ritual madness and will stop at nothing to prove her divine heritage to the dissenters of Thebes. Set deep in the underground club scene where debauchery rules and idolatry reigns, The Bacchae run the show. Every. Night. Can the rule of law compete with the chaos and euphoria of Dionysus?

August 20-25, Hen & Chickens, Highbury

Camden Fringe: https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/events/the-bacchae/

Better Than Sex: The Story of Mae West

Better than Sex is a one-woman cabaret reflecting on the infamous 1930s sex-symbol Mae West (Bella Bevan). Through this icon we hear the tale that led to the rise and fall of her scandalous career, with live performances of the songs she made famous including A Guy What Takes His Time and I’m No Angel.

August 12-14, The Cockpit, Lisson Grove

Camden Fringe: https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/events/better-than-sex-the-story-of-mae-west/

The Boy with the Bee Jar

Set on a North London estate, a young boy with an absent father develops an interest in bees. At the same time he forms an unlikely alliance with an old punk, and they become vital to each other's personal narrative. Critics have drawn comparisons to Waiting for Godot. The play was longlisted for the Bruntwood prize. 

June 29 to July 17, The Hope Theatre, Upper Street

https://www.thehopetheatre.com/productions/the-boy-with-the-bee-jar/ 

Coronavirus – A Great British Farce

An absurd, dark comedy satirising life in the Covid age. Inspired by the writer’s own lockdown diaries, it takes a weird and wonderful trip into the mind of Londoner Joe. Part study into the stir craziness of isolation, this play promises to induce laughter and a sense of knowing as audiences see themselves in its protagonist.

August 2-4, Hen and Chickens Theatre, Highbury

Camden Fringe: https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/events/coronavirus-a-great-british-farce/ 

Deaf Ears – How I Learned to Hear

What’s it like being a hearing child of deaf parents? In Joe Friedman, it drove a lifelong desire to connect with others. It led him to do stand up and improvisation, become a psychotherapist, write a series of successful children’s books, and write this show. Joe’s storytelling brings to life a scary and hilarious drug-fuelled encounter with the Chicago police (during the ‘69 Chicago 7 trial), and a patient who drives him mad but unlocks his deaf ears - all woven together with a sympathetic account of his parent’s struggle with being labelled “deaf and dumb”.

August 14-15, Hen and Chickens Theatre, Highbury

Camden Fringe: https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/events/deaf-ears-how-i-learned-to-hear/

The Emoji Project

The Emoji Project is an intergenerational, participatory anthology of new writing responding to emojis as an ever-evolving, nuanced language. From their birth in 90s Japan to their far-reaching, institutionalised use in the present, emojis are a trademark of how we connect. The project has assembled a team of creatives to consider our use of digitised communication and to imagine future emojis. Each writer will investigate and play with the meaning of a different emoji, translating its possibility into poetry, participatory work or short plays.

August 12-14, Hen and Chickens Theatre, Highbury

Camden Fringe: https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/events/the-emoji-project/

Game of Governments

Clementine Beeson and Geoffrey Williams Productions’ original satirical comedy Game of Governments debuts at the Camden Fringe after its sold out production at the Gielgud Theatre as part of the RADA Festival in 2019. A non-partisan show about the absurdities of politics, political systems and the people who live with the consequences.

July 27 - August 1, Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate

August 11, 12, 19, 20, The Cockpit, Lisson Grove

https://upstairsatthegatehouse.ticketsolve.com/shows/1173612510/events/428383174

https://www.thecockpit.org.uk/node/1943

History on the Road

A new play with an all-Black, all-female cast, dealing with the closure of a family run hair salon in Brixton. Exploring significant cultural events that have taken place in the area over the years, it's all about female empowerment. 

August 9-10, The Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone

Camden Fringe: https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/events/history-on-the-road/

Hymn

Benny and Gilbert form a close bond despite being from different social classes. Race is a continuous, unspoken thread throughout this play, with references to far flung places like Jamaica and Mississippi, as well as looking at how the two Black men experience life in the UK. It is staged in a modern fashion, with minimal props and lighting, and the actors are prone to breaking into song.

July 17 to August 13, Almeida Theatre, Upper Street 

https://almeida.co.uk/whats-on/hymn/23-jul-2021-14-aug-2021 

If we ended this

If We Ended This is a play about intimacy, or rather an expression of how intimacy fuels and governs us, how we lose ourselves in it and find ourselves in the fallout. Following a sold out, four-star preview run at Colours Hoxton, Entwine Theatre bring their debut piece to Camden People’s Theatre, as
part of the Camden Fringe 2021.

August 3-8, Camden People's Theatre, Euston

Camden Fringe: https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/events/if-we-ended-this/

The Lion's Den

The Lion’s Den is New York’s most elite burlesque club, a place full of wonder and enchantment, showcasing only the best dancers in the business. Competition runs high in this cutthroat environment; its every dancer for themselves. That is, until a shocking discovery, made on the most important night of the year, forces the dancers to drop their catty acts, withdraw their claws and band together to reclaim their power.

August 10-21, Camden People's Theatre, Euston

Camden Fringe: https://www.cptheatre.co.uk/production/camden-fringe-the-lions-den/

Mary & Mietek

A true story centred around the romance between a man and a woman during WWII. A modern day couple learn about their own relationship by reading love letters between the playwright's grandparents. Both sets of partners are separated by borders during tumultuous times. This two person play prominently features music and movement.

August 25-27, Hen and Chickens Theatre, Highbury

Camden Fringe: https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/events/mary-mietek/ 

Melting Pot

Good people do bad things and bad people do good things. Anoushka Rava sways brilliantly between both, offering a hilarious mix. French-Iranian, born in London, raised in Paris, this show tackles current societal matters with lightness and irony. Imagine what comes out of her Jewish, Muslim and Catholic heritage, coping with the most unapologetic family you can only fall in love with. 

August 2, Museum of Comedy, Holborn

August 5,  Canal Cafe Theatre, Warwick Avenue

Camden Fringe: https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/events/melting-pot/

Anoushka Rava, Melting Pot

Anoushka Rava, Melting Pot - Credit: Anoushka Rava

National Trust

National Trust is the latest work by Irish playwright Mial Pagan, whose powerful drama Dancehall Sweethearts was produced by the Company of Ten at the Camden Fringe Festival in 2017. Flawed, ambitious politician Peter Fraser teams up with journalist and former lover Eleanor Perry to climb the greasy pole of politics. Believing he is in control of his own destiny, Fraser is used by others playing out their own psychodramas of power. Personal gain outweighs responsibility and comes at a terrible cost to the country when Britain is pitched into chaos.

August 27-29, Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate

Camden Fringe https://upstairsatthegatehouse.ticketsolve.com/shows/1173612519

National Trust by playwright Mial Pagan

National Trust by playwright Mial Pagan - Credit: Mial Pagan

The Return

Natasha Stanic Mann combines storytelling with movement and poetry in a piece about the hidden consequences of war and intergenerational damage. It is a solo performance based on Natasha’s personal experience of growing up during the breakup of former Yugoslavia. 

August 24-26, Camden People's Theatre

Camden Fringe https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/performances/the-return/

Natasha Stanic Mann in The Return

Natasha Stanic Mann in The Return - Credit: Natasha Stanic Mann

Rune

A fashion-opera about language and cosmology, featuring three grand pianos, dance, sculpture and an original capsule collection from designers Ka Wa Key.

August 17, Round Chapel, Homerton

Tête à Tête: https://www.tete-a-tete.org.uk/event/rune-live/

A Simple Tale of Love

From Rude Raven Productions, A Simple Tale of Love is directed by Nicole Roberts Ryder. The play follows the relationship between Molly and a sinister stranger, JD, who holds a terrifying secret, and her life is never the same again.

A dark dramedy - absurd in places, poignant in others; this is a tale of love and of how two become one, but also explores the love of one’s self, of one’s dreams and is a metaphor for the reawakening of your deepest, darkest passion.

August 24, 28 and 29, Hen & Chickens Theatre, Highbury

Camden Fringe https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/events/a-simple-tale-of-love/

The Smartest Giant in Town

Based on a children’s book, this production tells the tale of George - a giant who is unhappy with his personal appearance. Having acquired some new threads, he becomes the smartest giant in town, but things become more complicated when he meets some animals who need them more than he does. This kids show is performed using puppets and songs.

May 29 to August 15, Little Angel Theatre, Islington 

https://littleangeltheatre.com/whats-on/the-smartest-giant-in-town/

Tropicana

Aidan Sadler describes themselves as a "queer comedy cabaret artist". A celebration of all things 80s, the show is part stand-up, part musical. With experience in clubs and on cruise ships, Aidan knows how to command an audience. The act covers topics such as body image and growing up gay in a small town. 

July 20-24, Hen and Chickens Theatre, Highbury

http://www.unrestrictedview.co.uk/tropicana/ 

Village Wooing

SHAW2020 was founded by theatre professionals who are members of The Shaw Society. Their focus is to bring Bernard Shaw’s theatre and writings to a wider, more diverse audience. In 2020 they transferred their performances online, with Zoom theatre events entitled Sharing Shaw and the YouTube series ‘Talking Shaw’. SHAW2020 presents this knockabout battle of the sexes in a Shaw Society sponsored production, as part of the Camden Fringe Festival in August. Back in the theatre, Village Wooing is a "knockabout battle of the sexes" a in which the characters play a game of cat and mouse across land and sea.

August 15-18, Etcetera Theatre, Camden

Camden Fringe: https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/events/village-wooing/

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