‘Jon Courtenay: Against The Odds’ (Bedfringe, 29 July 2022)

“He’s got to carry on like nothing is going on and he isn’t undergoing treatment.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars (Outstanding)

Jon Courtenay is a British singer, comedian, and entertainer who also has the gift of being a pianist. He’s was the winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2020. In fact, did you know that Jon is the first ever golden buzzer winner to win BGT. [For those of you who still call ITV ‘The Other Side’, The Golden Buzzer is where the judges or Ant and Dec can push the Buzzer to put the contestant through to the live finals.]

Jon’s appearance at The Bedford Fringe was with his Edinburgh Fringe preview show AGAINST THE ODDS. The scene is set where it all starts, with his auditioning for BGT. During the next few months Jon keeps a big secret away from BGT, and the media, which is going to make a impact on his life.

The story is really POWERFUL and it’s one that really deserves to be heard. It’s all about a mole that appears on the side of his head which was eventually diagnosed as being cancer. Yet Jon can’t stop now that he’s reached the top. He’s got to carry on like nothing is going on and he isn’t undergoing treatment.

Jon’s show flows throughout and his gifted ability to perform is one that can’t be missed. You can really see how much Jon loves live audiences and the BUZZ he gets from entertaining. The way in which he turns the story in to comedy and music is very clever. The show’s opening song is his auditioning song called ‘The Third Person’ and each number that follows tells the story of what was going on behind the scenes.

This personal story told by Jon REALLY did make an impact on me. It was thought-provoking to me as to the importance of being checked out early with any health concerns. LIFE is valuable, LIFE is Important and LIFE is also to ENJOY which is what I’m doing.

That was an outstanding show, please go and see it at The Edinburgh Fringe you’re in for a great time.


This review was authored by Graeme Scott.

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Bedfringe 2022 Interview: Infants

“Getting it back on stage was hard – really hard – there were some real logistical (not to mention mental) barriers to embarking on a process we had already been through once, with a kind of anxiety-driven paranoia that having been halted already it could so easily hit problems again.”

WHO: James Lark: Writer/performer

WHAT: “James Lark’s (Tony Blair the Musical, The Snow Spider) new musical promises tantrums and disasters, naughty words and naughty characters but after a single calamitous day, we can’t guarantee that everyone will be coming back to school tomorrow…

Class 3 are on the brink of disaster: tactile Drew is a safeguarding hazard, Chloe’s obsession with Ryan threatens her friendship with queen bee Kaylee, and a noxious misunderstanding threatens the career of teacher Mr Finch. It’s just as well mobile phones aren’t allowed in school – the parents couldn’t possibly find out, could they?

WHERE: Quarry Theatre

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Bedfringe?

This is the first time I’ve had my own show at Bedfringe, though when I lived in Bedford (many, many years ago) I was a regular in the audience and saw some incredible shows. I was once – even more many years ago – a frequent visitor to the Edinburgh Fringe, both as performer and spectator (and of course the two things go hand in hand, as I think it’s very much the point of festivals to be able to experience and soak up other people’s work at the same time as developing your own) – so at a time when my career and the other complexities of Being A Grown Up were starting to make spending a whole month in Edinburgh kinda impractical, it was brilliant to discover I lived in a place that had its own opportunity to see a lot of the people who were heading up to Edinburgh themselves. And Bedfringe has a great atmosphere because it’s fuelled by genuine enthusiasm for the shows they have on – the people running it are probably the most enthusiastic audience members of all, in fact – and it’s hardly surprising, I mean look at the range and calibre of the stuff they’re featuring.

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2021 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

It has been a funny couple of years. And I don’t mean funny in a way that I got to laugh at much. ‘Infants’ was meant to get its premiere in 2020, and things were pretty well advanced (cast ready, rehearsals underway, posters printed) when a global pandemic reared its ugly head. So instead of putting on my exciting new musical I found myself spending intense days working online and long evenings gardening; on the one hand a frustrating time, and it was certainly annoying to have the brakes put on my musical when everything had been going so well. On the other hand, giving a piece of theatre more room to develop can be a positive thing, as was the case here – we did an online preview, we tried out sections at outdoor events, and we had the time to get some aspects of the production much more into shape. Getting it back on stage was hard – really hard – there were some real logistical (not to mention mental) barriers to embarking on a process we had already been through once, with a kind of anxiety-driven paranoia that having been halted already it could so easily hit problems again. We had to recast some of the roles, half of the original cast having (perfectly naturally) moved on abd become unavailable. But what a rewarding process it has been, and to be honest it is a more polished, more brilliant show for the extra time it has taken us to get here.

Tell us about your show.

‘Infants’ tells the story of a single day in the lives of a class of seven-year-olds: bossy Kaylee and her best friend Chloe, sensitive Ryan, clumsy Liam, tactile Drew and sulky Jenny. But it’s not just about the children – we also meet their parents and their teachers, who become embroiled in a potential bullying situation and a misunderstanding involving a mop, all of which leads to a cataclysmic confrontation that will leave a substantial mark on all of the characters involved. It’s a comedy, with plenty of wordplay and physicality, not to mention moments of pure farce, but without giving too much away there’s a bittersweet element to what happens – with each rewrite the comedy in the show became darker, perhaps because the more I invested in the characters, the more the consequences of what was thrown at them felt genuinely painful. Also, the childishness we were exploring was being echoed in some of the highest public offices in the country, and a story about infantile behaviour getting out of hand and turning into a hunt for a scapegoat does seem… well, topical.

Featuring no fewer than 19 characters, the whole thing is performed by just six actors – so it’s something of a tour de force for the performers involved (not to mention a calorie-busting workout). And obviously, it’s all set to music, which veers from childlike simplicity for younger characters to some pretty sophisticated material for the adults. There are some old-fashioned toe-tapping tunes in there (you WILL come out with them stuck in your head), but also some really exciting moments of ensemble singing when all the different characters and storylines come together – so if you like the melodic invention of William Finn, or the wit and complexity of Sondheim, there’ll be plenty here to satisfy you.

I can also guarantee that you’ll laugh. A lot.

What should your audience see at Bedfringe after they’ve seen your show?

You must must must go and see ‘The Same Rain That Falls On Me’, a brilliant, funny, sad and vital monologue written by Logan Jones and performed by Ella McKeown (23 July, 12pm) – it packs so much into its 35 minutes and will leave you reeling. Matthew Gouldesbrough’s five star OffComm award-winning play Elegy (30 and 31 July, 4.30pm) looks too be another theatrical experience not to miss. I’m a huge silent cinema fan and seeing films with live musical accompaniment is one of life’s great pleasures, so Bela Lugosi’s ‘White Zombie’ with a new original score written and performed by Jason Frederick looks like an absolute treat (25 July, 7pm). And any opportunity to see Simon Munnery (23 July, 9pm) should be seized.


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‘Simon Munnery: Trials and Tribulations’ (Bedfringe, 23 July 2022)

“Simon has a definite comical genius way of telling his stories.”

Editorial Rating: 3 Stars (Nae Bad)

Simon’s show at The Bedford Fringe was based on the turmoil of his life. For reasons that soon become clear, one of these stories, from his youth, was never going to be told until now, some twenty years later.

It all started on the last night of the Edinburgh Fringe. Simon had been tasked by his friend and fellow comic, Arthur Smith, to heckle him under the guise of being a German Tourist. Unfortunately, Simon got caught up a the situation which led to his arrest for assaulting a Police officer – although at the following court case he was found not guilty. Simon has a definite comical genius way of telling his stories. They were each cleverly portrayed to the audience giving us much laughter.

Another story followed on how a parking ticket machine in Leeds didn’t accept his money resulting in no payment being made and returning to his car to find a ticket had been issued. The years of refusing to pay the rising fine resulted in another court case. SPOILER ALERT: Another case he won. Simon also got mugged some three times up and these were further stories told in Simon’s own proficient way.

Simon certainly has a way with portraying his own true life stories and they was good to hear. The attention to detail made each an interesting listen. As an audience, you do laugh along the way. What this show lacks though is continuity. The flow between stories didn’t seem to work .There was parts of the show to which the audience didn’t seem to react. The format needs tiding up, but that’s why it’s a work in progress. We all have off days, and this seemed to be one for Simon.

I would give this show a rating of 3 out of 5 as seen. It was definitely Nae Bad. Being a Bedfringe event the ticket price was acceptable. It would be good to revisit this show once it’s been polished off.

 


This review was authored by Graeme Scott.

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‘Pigs and Bears Don’t Come in Pairs’ (Bedfringe, 23 July 2022)

“Two of the most gorgeous, and delicate tellings of familiar tales you’ll hear this side of ‘Jackonory’ in the TV show’s glory days.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars (Outstanding)

There’s a reason Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley never cut a record together. The two artists wanted to collaborate but, in their infinite wisdom, Elvis’ managers kept making offers Dolly’s people could easily refuse. The way she tells it, this meeting of minds but not of pocketbooks was a vital early lesson. The industry is called “show business” for a reason, some choices have to be made with your head in spite of your heart. For the producers and creators of children’s theatre, where innocence and magic are so integral to any successful production, keeping worldly Ying and otherworldly Yang in harmony over the long term is not so much a soft skill as a superpower. Sad, but true, theatre involves much more bean-counting than fantastic geese who lay golden eggs. It’s not about the scale either. Stan Lee simply created picture books just as Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler do. These artists are the Warhols and Picassos of their world. But for all the corporate billions in revenue, the art is still what matters. When you’ve got an artist who can make ends meet by producing fabulous content for impressionable young minds, you can move the world for that is the lever Archimedes was talking about.

We enter to find Andy Lawrence, like a middle-years Merlin of enchantment and make-believe, bespectacled and be-beared. If you’ve ever wanted to see someone who can seem to saunter when they’re standing still, look no further. You go into some shows and you feel like you’re a medieval burgher, being loudly induced to stay and watch a back-of-the-cart performance in the market square. Lawrence is much softer, much subtler. It’s impossible not to warm to him. From the soft lighting to Paolo Conte quietly crooning ‘Happy Feet’, this is someone who knows how to set a calming scene for those of us not always guaranteed to use our inside voices. What follows are two of the most gorgeous, and delicate tellings of familiar tales you’ll hear this side of ‘Jackonory’ in the TV show’s glory days. If there was such a thing as an ultra-robust souffle, guaranteed never to let you down at the last minute, this would be it. Daughter 1.0 (7yrs) wrote this to her Godmother:

“Dear Aunty Claire, I went to the bedfod festival fringe. I went to see pigs and bears don’t come in pairs! There were two stories. The tree little pigs and Goldllocks and the tree bears. First there was the tree little pigs he used a three to show the house where all of them lived. And the wolf was a bit shabby wich made him look hungry and scary. In Goldilocks and the three bears he put on big ears for the Daddy bear a medium size bear and a tiny bear. Goldilocks hated having bathes and was a very messy eater. And she put her Whole face in the bole of porge. And the bears were so scared oh her! I loved it! Lots of love xxx”

Merlin had his wizard’s staff, Theatre of Widdershins* has its puppetry. The characters, especially the big bad wolf, are simply perfect, which not every sightline in the Bedfringe studio is. The hand-crafted world they inhabit is joyous. It makes the heart sing. The Three Bears’ House is so elaborately simple as to defy belief. If J. Robert Oppenheimer had built dolls’ houses, they would have looked like these. Even so, like Merlin’s staff, all these props are secondary to the man himself. If you’re looking for someone to keep the kids entertained, or to mentor the once and future king of all England, Andrew Lawrence, is your guy.

*Widdershins is the auld English term for counter-clockwise, contrary to the sun’s course, left-handed and no, I didn’t have to ask.

 


Reviewer: Dan Lentell

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‘The Munch Mission’ (Bedfringe, 24 July 2022)

“Surrealler than waking up in a Magritte painting, finding time’s gone all transfixed, and that while the street outside is dark, overhead there’s broad sunshine.”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars (Outstanding)

“I’m really not a fan of Munch, he’s no Peder Mønsted or Anders Zorn…” …is what I would have said if I’d been a clued-up member of the ‘Painters From the North’ Facebook group back in the day. What I actually said was even more dismissive. I was young and hadn’t learned then that one needs a Fringe reviewer’s pass, and/or to have been elected to political office before one can go around inflicting half-baked subjectivity on strangers. The naval-gazing nightmare that is a full-blown Twatter addiction wasn’t a thing then. There followed an awkward silence. Minions from the University’s Comms and Marketing Office weren’t supposed to talk. The other occupants of the black cab – which was then working its way passed the Scottish National Gallery and up The Mound – looked uncomfortably at one another and then at the guest of honour. Sue Prideaux author of ‘Edvard Munch: Behind The Scream’ said nothing for the rest of the journey on her way to collect her James Tait Black Prize for Biography. I still think Munch is overrated BTW, in that way that all artists who aren’t Edwin Landseer tend to be.

We enter to find one of the most elaborate and exciting sets this Bedfringe, inhabited by Agents Dali (Paul Lawless) & Kahlo (Gill Simmons) from the Company of International Artists. The CIA exists to solve mysteries. What follows is a playable art-heist adventure theatre show that’s surrealler than waking up in a Magritte painting, finding time’s gone all transfixed, and that while the street outside is dark, overhead there’s broad sunshine. We are taken on an international journey, collecting clues and trying to track down Munch’s most celebrated painting ‘The Scream’ which has gone walkabouts. BTW describing ‘The Scream’ as Munch’s most celebrated painting is like describing Johann Pachelbel’s ‘Canon’ as his most celebrated piece of music – what else has he done that anyone can remember off hand?

Accompanying the elaborate set are some BIG, bold costumes. A lot of choices have gone into this production, a lot of details and touches that add up to a massively impactful and majorly memorable entertainment. Here’s what Daughter 1.0 (7yrs) wrote in a letter to her Aunty – the one who works at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and with whom I’m not allowed to talk about painting and sculpture because, apparently, in that sphere of human activity I’m a “tasteless vulgarian”…

“Dear Aunty Chloe, We went to the Bedford Festival Fringe. And we saw the Munch Mishon! When we walked in we saw a phone that was shaped like a lobster and two boxses there was also some drawers and two windows and a sighn in the middlle. The Caracters were wering a long mostash for the man. And a lobster shirt. He must have loved lobsters. And for the other carecter a big tubon on her and a lepod sort of costume. The story was about a famouse artist “Munch” painting a picture of a scream. But the scream gose mising! You had some padles that you use to show what you want to happen next. We had to solve problems like when we fount an orange E or an A and all together it spelled something out. The Scream poped up in a lot of pictures. And it could talk. I loved it so much! Lots of love xxx” 

For all that ‘The Munch Mission!’ is a larger-than-life production, its the big-hearted performances that make, bend, but never break the magic. The on-stage chemistry between Lawless and Simmons crackles with artistic energy. Together, they are the fuel in the tank that drives this garish behemoth to such outrageous heights of precision silliness. I’d have liked to have come away knowing more about Munch and if he ever painted anything that wasn’t ‘The Scream’ but for the audience at which this show is aimed, the pitch is damn near perfect.

 


Reviewer: Dan Lentell

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‘Where The Lost Socks Go’ (Bedfringe, 24 July 2022)

“We’re off on an adventure, a quest for identity, full of catchy songs and crazy characters.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars (Nae Bad)

“I want my girls to see really accomplished tap dancing, there’s no chance they’re seeing that at home, but if we took them to an exhibition of tap dancing it would be boring as…” “I know what you mean. You want them to see something organic and free-range.” I like the barstaff at Bedfringe. They get it. Really great theatre for children should showcase music, movement, composition, and maybe even have a moral message to scaffold and shape their spiritual and moral growth. What matters is the premise. The toughest audiences in the world need a hook that works from the outset.

‘Where The Lost Socks Go’ has a brilliant premise. It’s one instantly familiar to the wide-eyed little ones, their carers and parents. An African grandma at the schoolgates observed to me last week that socks tend to be rather dull sub-Sahara while every other garment is louder than a cajon percussion box, played upbeat in an auld skool public library. Conversely, British socks are deafeningly loud and proud while everything else in the average English ensemble is limited to the colours of the Ford Model-T pre-sales catalogue.

We enter to find an electric rainbow of socks bestrewed around the stage, hanging from a washing line, covering the feet of the two performers – Beth Markey and Josh Baldwin – only… hang on… wait a minute… Josh is missing a sock. He’s got a big audition coming up, it’s his chance to join the band. Except he’d have to conform to their unshakable ‘No Ukeleles’ rule, something that he’s not feeling too good about. 

Josh has one of his guitar socks on, but where’s the other? He might also have to wear mismatched socks, that can’t be a good thing, right? We’re off on an adventure, a quest for identity, full of catchy songs and crazy characters. There’s a rocket ride, dance numbers, and several sockdraws worth of laughs. Once upon a time I was on the parents’ jury that summarily convicted and burned at the stake a disgusting heretic who had openly described Justin Fletcher’s Mr Tumble as a drama school project gone too far – they tried to recant as they were dragged through the street on a hurdle, but the baying mob of cosplaying Aunt Pollys and Lord Tumbles were having none of it.

As I said in the jury room after we voted for conviction, I like drama and music school alumni taking centre stage in the world of pure imagination. There’s a very great deal of finely honed craft needed to capture and keep the attention of the screentime generation. Under The Bed Theatre’s Beth Markey and Josh Baldwin have these skills and then some. They also have the talent to deploy their box of tricks to best advantage. My 7yr and 4yr auld loved every minute. Sock-stealing aliens! What’s not to love?

 


Reviewer: Dan Lentell

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‘The Three Musketeers’ (Bedfringe, 23 July 2022)

“If anyone was going to attempt The Three Musketeers as a two-hander, it would be the daring Morgan and West. Instead, much to their cardiologists’ relief, they’ve added the masterful Peter Clifford to their crew.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars (Nae Bad)

Charles de Batz de Castelmore (c.1611-1673)  was born at the Château de Castelmore near Lupiac in south-western France the son of a recently ennobled merchant and his wife, Françoise de Montesquiou d’Artagnan. He went to Paris in the 1630s, travelling under his mother’s name, and joined the Musketeers. The rest, as they say, is history. The biography of d’Artagnan – Louis XIV’s captain of le Mousquetaires de la maison militaire du roi de France – has been (somewhat) embellished down the years, first by Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras and then, most famously and fabulously, by Alexandre Dumas. Now d’Artagnan and The Three Musketeers are getting the Morgan and West treatment. We expect clever silliness. We expect sparkling banter. We expect some things to be perfect and other things to go hopelessly, hilariously wrong. We are not disappointed.

One of my final memories of EdFringe ‘19 – back when the world was young and undercooked bat with a side of pangolin sashimi was still on the menu – is of encountering Messrs Morgan and West in George Square. They were having a spectacular run with their riotously brilliant ‘Unbelievable Science’, a show so critically acclaimed I awarded it this publication’s ONLY 7-star review. Onstage they were performing at the speed of light. Offstage, and rushing between gigs, they were, to put it mildly, utterly cream-crackered – a pair of properly wobbly-legged long-distance runners gasping towards the finish line. Seeing them manfully struggle in that oh-so-rare Edinburgh sunshine, it was clear as day that these two are probably the hardest-working all-rounders in the league.

If anyone was going to attempt The Three Musketeers as a two-hander, it would be the daring Morgan and West. Instead, much to their cardiologists’ relief, they’ve added the masterful Peter Clifford to their crew. Clifford identifies as an achhhhhtooooooor, with one of those deep and meaningful voices reserved for Penny Mordant’s campaign videos (that reference will age well). He certainly adds gravity, but no dead weight, to the ensemble. His comic timing, physicality, and sheer bloody hard work add an exciting new depth and diversity to the much-loved Morgan and West experience.

Alexandre Dumas was first and foremost a storyteller, the first to buckle his swash for a mass and enduring readership. So, have Morgan and West managed to distil the Frenchman’s Eau de awesomeness in a form that will pass muster for an audience of eager young culture vultures in the 2020s? Daughter 1.0 (7yrs) wrote the following in a letter telling her Grandmother about the show,

“Dear Granny, I went to the Bedfod festival fringe! Let me tell you about the tree muscatias. There was a farm boy who had a cow as a friend. And he wanted to become a Muscatia. There was bunting to show the danger zone. They took fighting very seriosly. They used flags to show where they were. For egsample, they turned one to show it was the port and another to show the cathedral where the cardinal lived, or the city. The story took place in France. There was a evil person who wanted some diamonds so he coald be very power-ful. The queen realy needed them. They triked him and gave him dimons made of ice. The farm boy had a fight with Mr Cheese wich made me laugh and laugh! it was not the country it was a city called paris. I loved it so much! lots of love xxx”

For me, the show could have been 10-20 minutes shorter and a wee bit pacier. Still, it’s safe to bet that Morgan and West (and Clifford too) have got yet another sensational hit on their hands. This is a production that will delight little kids new to the story as well as those of us who have known since the ‘80s that Dogtanian and the Muskehounds are always ready. Un pour tous, tous pour un!

 


Reviewer: Dan Lentell

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‘Just So Stories’ (Bedfringe, 24 July 2022)

“Written on the hearts of each generation are sentiments and thoughts first put there by Rudyard Kipling. This show honours and amplifies that legacy.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars (Outstanding)

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1935) is how surprising he is. The quantity of his written output is surprising. The quality of his work, the texture of the language, is surprising. His grandeur and simplicity are surprising. His life story and the times in which he lived are full, chockablock, with surprises. There are even people – simple, honest, but let’s face it, a bit thick – who are surprised that a gentleman writing more than a century ago, in times divergent from our own, had different attitudes, prides, and prejudices from our ours. For me, the most surprising thing about Kipling, it gets me every time, is the enduring and universal appeal of his stories for children. No matter the age, they speak to a certain age with a kindliness and clarity that never fades.

We enter to find the stage populated with performers from across the English-speaking world. This is the first time they have ever met in di persona personalmente. This is a team of star strikers and heavy hitters. Faces familiar to fringegoers for many years. Here is a collaboration between Bedford’s own Blackout Theatre Company and the highly-respected Central Standard Theatre in Kansas City whose motto – “World class… expect nothing less” – says it all. Despite the miles and the enforced separation of recent years, will they do justice to Kipling’s majesty as well as their own considerable reputations?

We set out with ‘The Butterfly That Stamped’, journey alongside ‘The Cat Who Walked by Himself’, and arrive at the ultimate just-so destination, ‘The Elephant’s Child’. The performance takes the form of a rehearsed reading with carefully-studied, wonderfully-evocative percussive accompaniment. John Story – MFA Sound Design University of Missouri-Kansas City – who adapted the stories for the stage, is a renowned Sound Designer who has worked on productions ranging from high opera to low comedy.

He starts proceedings by quartering the audience giving each a sound to make – the desert winds, the noise of camels, the mumbling of their drivers, the chatter of the womenfolk. The hothouse Bedfringe studio transforms into an exotic caravan en route to the court of Suleiman-bin-Daoud where the first of our tales is set. I’d have liked to have had one of these conjurings setting up the other two stories as well. It’s the kind of magic that would have had John Story burned at the stake for wizardry in more enlightened times.

The little ones sprawled out on cushions at the front are enwrapped and enchanted throughout. Here’s what Daughter 1.0 (7yrs) had to say about the show in her letter to her grandfather:

“Dear Grandad, I went to the Bedford Festival Fringe! and we saw the ‘Just So Stories’. Did you ever read some to Mummy and Aunty Sarah? It was very exciting. Three narrators read and the rest made sounds and read a bit too. My favourite story was ‘The Elephant’s Child’. It was funny because the lady who had the elephants voice had a elephant neclase. There was three storys. ‘The Butterful Who Stamped’, ‘The Cat Who Walked by Herself’, and ‘The Elefants Child’. There was lots of drums and a gong and lots of difrant instaments like an empty coconut for horses and a ballown for when the corodoile puled the elephants child’s nose really hard. I really enjoyed it. Lots of love xxx”

For me, a Kipling-inspired show has to be surprising. I wasn’t simply surprised, I was amazed. The stories were told in a way that suggested they might have been written yesterday. They were told fresher than the first week at university. They were told as evocative as the sound of leather on willow. They were told as expertly as you’d want the surgeon who carries out a loved one’s open heart surgery to be. Written on the hearts of each generation are sentiments and thoughts first put there by Rudyard Kipling. This show honours and amplifies that legacy.

 


Reviewer: Dan Lentell

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‘Alfie Moore’s, It’s a Fair Cop’ (Bedfringe, 23 July 2022)

“Alfie Moore has something to talk about, a rich vein of thought-provoking tragi-comic material that is worth hearing.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars (Outstanding)

The Radio 4 crowd are in en mass tonight. There are few cultural institutions which have done more to incubate and nursemaid emerging British talent than the airwave venue to be found at 92-95 FM and 198 LW. For a certain tribe in our society, those frequencies are as familiar as their own childhood telephone number. Frequency modulation and long wave. Those matter. The DAB digital radio, Freesat, Sky or Virgin Media addresses for Radio 4 do not. Shibboleths are crucial whether you’re trying to stop Ephraimites from crossing the River Jordan, or you’re trying to identify yourself with the last hold out of the Reithian mandate to inform, educate, and entertain. Alfie Moore’s, ‘It’s a Fair Cop’ is the latest in a long line of exquisitely produced audio content that has set the gold-pressed latinum standard since 30 September 1967.

We enter to find Bedfringe’s main stage rigged for standup which is appropriate because Alfie Moore is a standup comedian. What has set him apart from the anonymous herd of edgeless blethers and anxiety-including also rants is that for twenty years Moorse was an officer with Humberside Police, serving his communities to make them safer and stronger. In other words, Alfie Moore has something to talk about, a rich vein of thought-provoking tragi-comic material that is worth hearing.

I’m a Radio 4 baby with a Brian Redhead beard, I don’t like crowds so I’ve sneaked a solitary seat in the sort-of-but-not-entirely-closed-upstairs, extreme stage-right, opposite the Royal/Presidential Box. From my superb vantage point, I can see down onto Moore’s colour-coded show notes as well as his occasional kindly stern glances up in my direction which leaves me feeling that the very best course of action for me to take is to confess everything – I did it. I did go through a door clearly marked “no entry” to get here. I did see the sign. I do like feeling importanterer and betterer than everyone, even my own Radio 4 people.

The show notes steer the conversation, and it is a conversation, between Moore and his audience. Like his radio show, with its 1m+ listeners, the conversation focuses on the choices made each and every day by ordinary men and women wearing the Queen’s uniform. Would we get to the scene of a possible burglary with lights and sirens flashing? Knowing the suspect is possibly on the premises, would we wait for backup? How would we identify ourselves? What’s the actual crime here? BTW breaking and entering is an American import and not a British legal concept, Moore informs us, but he would say that, he’s with the Feds.

By curtain call, we’ve gained an insight into life on the beat told by a storyteller with a natural gift whose talent has been honed and sharpened in the cultural nursery equivalent of Kew Gardens. We leave knowing more (informed, tick); with a broader understanding of the context of what we’ve learned (educated, tick); and we’ve laughed – a lot – (entertained, tic). In the Disney+ adaptation of Alfie Moore’s, ‘It’s a Fair Cop’ we can imagine the bright-eyed ex-copper looking up at James Cromwell, the taciturn actor playing Lord Reith, who smiles down just as he did in the final scene of Babe. They share in the glory and the crowd’s adulation before Cromwell, as Reith whispers, “That’ll do pig. That’ll do.”

 


Reviewer: Dan Lentell

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Bedfringe 2021 Interview: The Geneva Convention of Human F**Ks

“I guess we have been too busy to actually realise what we have learnt from this year just yet.”

WHO: Charlie Whitworth: Writer and Director

WHAT: “The Geneva Convention of Human F**ks tells the story of three men as they go on their latest sex tour of Europe. Set just before COVID hits, we follow Michael, Liam and Peter as they describe the various brothels, prostitutes and more obscure sexual offerings that they encounter. In this time they tackle their ethics around various issues such as prostitution, #metoo, sex trafficking and even global warming.

Performed entirely by women performers, the show is a sometimes funny, sometimes groan-inducing exploration of toxic masculinity, sex tourism and the friendship between three men.
Written and Directed by company co-founder Charlie Whitworth, this shows launches Yet To Be with its mission to create original, punchy and entertaining work for audiences.”

WHERE: Quarry Theatre

WHEN: 26 July 2022 @ 21:15 (55mins)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Bedfringe?

This is my first time coming to Bedfringe but it is not the first time for Yet To Be’s co-founder Marina O’Shea. She has brought work here a few times and she is super excited about bringing our show “Geneva” to Bedfringe as she has had such great experiences at the festival in the past. As for me – I’m a complete newbie to the festival!

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2021 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

Well, Yet To Be have been on Exeter Northcott Theatre’s “Futures” programme this year which is an artist development programme. Marina and I are I guess what you would call “mid-career” but Yet To Be as a company is a baby and we want to make sure we get it right. We’ve been busy developing a new show for the Northcott called “Free Will & Other Myths” whilst we’ve been putting the finishing touches on the show we are taking to Bedfringe, Geneva… So I guess we have been too busy to actually realise what we have learnt from this year just yet.

Tell us about your show.

The Geneva Convention of Human F**ks tells the story of three men as they go on their latest sex tour of Europe. Set just before COVID hits, we follow Michael, Liam and Peter as they describe the various brothels, prostitutes and more obscure sexual offerings that they encounter. In this time they tackle their ethics around various issues such as prostitution, #metoo, sex trafficking and even global warming. Performed entirely by women performers, the show is a sometimes funny, sometimes groan-inducing exploration of toxic masculinity, sex tourism and the friendship between three men.

What should your audience see at Bedfringe after they’ve seen your show?

Well, I’m pretty sure these two shows are actually on BEFORE us but we reckon people should check out the two show by Ricochet Theatre on at Bedfringe called The Same Rain That Falls on Me & Intricate Rituals. Ricochet are lovely and we think you’d be fools to miss their shows.


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