The Camden fringe is back with 250 shows throughout August

Julie Upstairs at The Gatehouse is a new musical celebrating the life of 17th Century LGBTQ icon Julie D'Aubigny

Julie The Musical Upstairs at The Gatehouse is a new show celebrating the life of 17th Century LGBTQ icon Julie D'Aubigny - Credit: Supplied

From humble beginnings above a Camden Town pub, the Camden Fringe has blossomed to become a serious alternative to its older Scottish sister.

After a difficult two years due to Covid, the 16th instalment is back to strength with 250 shows across 20 North London venues throughout August including comedy, theatre, cabaret, and music.

Co founder and co-director Michelle Flower said: "When we started the Camden Fringe, Zena Barrie and I were running the Etcetera Theatre and producing shows at the Edinburgh Fringe.

"Many London Fringe venues closed during August as their management were also busy in Scotland. It didn't make sense to be leaving empty theatres and bedrooms in London to spend lots of money for the same thing in Edinburgh, especially when the competition for audience was so fierce. Despite a deep love for the Edinburgh Fringe we decided to opt out of that system back in 2006."

The first year they filled one venue, then two in the second, and three in the third.

"We've seen other small festivals come and go over the years but I think the Camden Fringe has endured because we were able to learn and grow organically," added Flower.

A founding principal was to keep both ticket prices and participation for performers cheap and accessible. This year, prices range from £5-£15 around "the same as going to the cinema."

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"With West End tickets reaching the hundreds, fringe venues are a great alternative for people who want to have the thrill of seeing live entertainment without breaking the bank."

This year, she's excited about the "strong seam of crime based shows". Four of these – The Midnight Snack, An Unexpected Tale in Smoky Midtown, Defective Inspector, and The Man Who Wouldn't Be Murdered – have joined forces to promote themselves as the Camden Fringe Sleuth Squad.

Unexpected Tale in Smoky Midtown is among a slew of crime thrillers at the 2022 Camden Fringe

Unexpected Tale in Smoky Midtown is among a slew of crime thrillers at the 2022 Camden Fringe - Credit: Andrew H Williams

"We absolutely love to see this collaboration between shows, it shows great fringe spirit and teamwork."

She's also looking forward to Julie: The Musical Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate, a new piece about the life of historic LGBTQ+ icon Julie D'Aubigny.

"Despite her extraordinary and fascinating life in 17th century France as an opera singer, sword fighter and nun-seducer, her story isn't very well known. Expect this to mark the start of Julie-mania!"

After last year's Offie-nominated Sisters of Charity, Free School Lunch Theatre returns with one woman's journey through time and space All This Must Pass.

Emmy-winning host and actor Ricki Lake is lending her voiceover for The Importance of Being Anxious, a coming-of-middle-age comedy by Hollywood writer Hal Cantor which premieres at the Museum of Comedy in Bloomsbury. Stand up comic Robin Morgan is breaking through after appearing on Mock the Week, The News Quiz and his regular Radio Wales shows. He previews his Edinburgh show Robin Morgan: Snip Snip, Bitch at The Bill Murray in Islington, before heading off on a UK Tour. Another comedy venue 2Northdown in King's Cross hosts shows by Rufus McAlister, Matt Hutchinson, Mike Cappozola,  and John and James' Tantric Night Out during the fringe.

Shadow Mask Theatre presents Lautrec at The Hen&Chickens, Highbury starring writer/performer Fergus Rattigan as French artist

Lautrec at The Hen&Chickens, Highbury starrs writer/performer Fergus Rattigan as French artist Henri de Toulouse Lautrec. - Credit: Courtesy of Shadow Mask Theatre

Shadow Mask Theatre’s Lautrec at The Hen&Chickens, Highbury explores the brief but thrilling life of French artist Henri de Toulouse Lautrec.

Writer/performer Fergus Rattigan said: “Lautrec’s growth became stunted in his teen years. Though I have a genetic disorder that makes me short (dwarfism), I feel a kinship with him, as someone seen as an outsider, a disabled artist who found a way to compensate for his shortcoming in life through developing his art. I hope this play will be a step for representation and increase understanding of the struggles and stigma disabled artists go through.”

 Rajesh and Naresh at Camden People's Theatre

Rajesh and Naresh at Camden People's Theatre is a rom com set in Mumbai in 2018 after India's landmark decriminalisation of homosexuality - Credit: Supplied

Rom-com Rajesh and Naresh at Camden People's Theatre in Euston is set in Mumbai just after India's landmark decriminalisation of homosexuality in 2018, and styles itself a cross between Bend it like Beckham meets It's a Sin.

Nigerian mythology inspires The Message In The Clay River at The Cockpit in Gateforth Street by Imagiphoria Studios, which follows three Orishas, spirits from the Yoruba religion of West Africa, on a mission to shape the world.

Helen Rivera's darkly funny I Went to Brazil to Die charts the true story of a trip to South America as her previous male self who resolves to get killed rather than distress everyone with a suicide. After failing to provoke various folk armed with guns and knives, the university lecturer is around to tell the tale and describe her happy transformation at Maida Vale's Canal Cafe Theatre.

Johnny Depp: A Retrospective on Late-Stage Capitalism at the Museum of Comedy sees Philadelphia born Jenna Kuerzi donning her Jack Sparrow costume to take a satirical swipe at Depp’s rise and fall and how we, as a society, are responsible for the celebrities we love to hate.

The Church of The Fall at Camden People's Theatre sees performer Steve Titley discuss his love of Mark E Smith's The Fall

The Church of The Fall at Camden People's Theatre sees performer Steve Titley discuss his love of Mark E Smith's The Fall - Credit: Courtesy of Steve Titley

Burlesque is on the bill at Aces and Eights as Riot Reveals Rosie May Riot brings Edinburgh performers to Tufnell Park. At the same venue, Invisible Cabaret, perform variety shows about mental health aiming to break down stigma and inspire conversations about self care through burlesque, comedy, dance, and original song. And at the Hen&Chickens strange, poetic and acerbically silly Jeu Jeu la Foille’s Testy Manifesto combines linguistic acrobatics with evocative images, puppetry, and sensory experiences to explore the mechanisms of intimate partner violence.

Village Wooing Upstairs at the Gatehouse Highgate 2022

Village Wooing is a charming two hander by George Bernard Shaw at Upstairs at the Gatehouse Theatre as part of the Camden Fringe - Credit: Courtesy of Shaw2020

At The Gatehouse, Highgate theatregoers can enjoy Elliot Hannah's Fred Astaire tribute A Drop of Fred, John Godber's education comedy Teechers, and London Pub Theatre's Standing Ovation award winner Village Wooing, George Bernard Shaw's charming anti romantic two hander, courtesy of Shaw 2020 theatre company.

Camden Fringe Festival 2022 runs August 1– 28. Full details at https://www.camdenfringe.com/