Theatre, music, comedy and big-name stars - Buxton Festival Fringe launches bumper 2011 line-up

Henning Wehn
Henning Wehn

THE LINE-UP for this year’s Buxton Festival Fringe could prove to be the best ever — with thriving theatre, music and comedy sections plus big name stars.

The full programme for the 2011 event - which runs from Wednesday July 6 to Sunday July 24 - will receive its official launch tomorrow (Friday) at Fringe First, Buxton Opera House’s celebration of the variety of the Fringe at the Pavilion Arts Centre.

Isy Suttie

Isy Suttie

Fringe chair Stephanie Billen said: “We are delighted with the line-up (of the 2011 Fringe) this year and with over 160 events to choose from, there really is something for everyone.”

With regular venue managers Underground Venues now incorporating the Pavilion Arts Centre as part of their space, they have been able to book some nationally famous comedy acts.

Tom Crawshaw, of Underground Venues, added: “The use of the Arts Centre is a real revolution for the Buxton Fringe – allowing it to welcome a whole new scale of entertainment, from big names from TV and radio, like Henning Wehn, Radio 4’s Ed Reardon and the Peep Show’s Isy Suttie, to bigger theatre productions like The Maharajah & The Kohinoor and Big Daddy Vs Giant Haystacks – from the country’s finest touring companies.”

Comedy is also represented by Radio 4’s Helen Keen, time-travelling adventures from Birdy Chick-Chick, make-believe observational storytelling from Amadeus Martin and John Cooper.

Buxton Festival Fringe programme 2011

Buxton Festival Fringe programme 2011

There’s a solo stand-up show from Edward Eales-White, a comic history of riots from policeman turned stand-up Alfie Moore, BBC New Comedy Award-winning performer James Sherwood and charming storytelling with belly laughs from Elis James.

Last year’s winner of the Fringe Award for Comedy Performer, Gerry Howell, returns with his new show. Comedy and magic mix with regular Fringe favourite Dr Johnny Façade bringing a new show, In Pursuit of Miss Adventure. There is also a smorgasbord of physical comedy, manipulation, escapology, mind reading, music - and impressive magic - from The Wizards of Odd.

The biggest increase in shows has been in the music category. There are regular Fringe performers such as the Amaretti Chamber Orchestra, High Peak Orchestra, Partita, Tideswell Male Voice Choir (this year with Chapel-en-le-Frith Male Voice Choir), African soprano Margaret Ferguson, Jake Thackray tribute Keith E Smith, pianist Jonathan Ellis, City of Manchester Opera, electro pop from Project Adorno and popular film and light classical music from Fordante.

Joining them are Burbage Band, trad jazz from Mart Rodger, Sam Dunkley with his chamber choir, Chorus Natus Est and Buxton’s community choir, Local Vocals. Local talent is also represented by duo Sam Partridge and Peter Calder, bohemian band Rosie & The Ragdolls and soprano Laura Monaghan.

Theatre continues to go from strength to strength, with a hilarious new spin on Chekhov’s The Seagull, a drama about Lewis Carroll, flat-share comedy in Being Nice, the story of Shirley Valentine as seen through the eyes of her hapless husband, Joe, The Tempest in the open air and Macbeth in Poole’s Cavern.

There’s spine-chilling drama in The Haunting, Hyde and Jack: A Ripper’s Tale and Buxton Drama League’s Act One Winner, Hungry Generations. Three’s Company and popular actor George Telfer team up for a play about Monty Python’s Graham Chapman, and there’s even a play about legendary wrestlers Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks.

Younger talent is represented by the REC Theatre with A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Lunar Tics, Imagine Theatre with Terry Pratchett’s Maskerade, Shadow Syndicate with Abi Morgan’s Fugee and Craft Theatre with Sarah Kane’s controversial 4:48 Psychosis. All this and, as ever, The Shakespeare Jukebox taking residence outside the Opera House.

Family events include theatre for children such as award-winners The Clock Master and Little Pixie Productions with Granny’s Big Top Tale. There are adaptations of the book Cowboy Baby, and the fairy tale, The Enormous Turnip, as well as The Buried Moon, a new children’s show from Babbling Vagabonds.

Spoken word events cover the full spectrum from the performance poetry of Mark Gwynne-Jones and the Psychicbread, to colourful storytelling from Kat Quatermass, a talk on art forgery and poetry from Word Wizards, Packhorse Poets and Richard Tyrone Jones. Finally the Packhorse brings together internationally renowned poets Ian McMillan and Roy Fisher.

There is a wealth of art exhibitions, from Buxton Museum and Art Gallery’s annual Derbyshire Open and the Great Dome Art Fair to Burbage Art Group’s annual exhibition, and even events held in individual shops and houses all around town.

Added to all this is a selection of acclaimed films from Buxton Films at the Railway, the winners of their Open Shorts competition and a film of last year’s acclaimed play The Last Laugh, guided walks around Buxton, close-up magic at the Palace Hotel, the chance to take part in a book club, and the return of the military tattoo in the Dome.