Thursday, 29 May 2014

Is One Wonderful?

Writing Fringe press releases about all the brilliant theatre shows coming up – and theatre makes up almost a third of our total programme – it occurred to me that there are an awful lot of one-person shows out there. 

Some stand out examples include Freerange Theatre, which last year gained two Fringe Award nominations and a Manchester Theatre Award nomination for Spoonface Steinberg starring Rebecca Fenwick, and is reviving the production as part of its Unmissable Monologues season, and Olivier Award-nominated actor Gerard Logan who plays Oscar Wilde languishing in his prison cell in Wilde Without The Boy, a Fringe production that is also part of Buxton Festival.

Fringe Award winner Patricia Hartshorne combines horror and humour in her First World War production When The Band Begins to Play (albeit accompanied on piano by Peter Dobson) and Uproot Theatre Company, responsible for last year’s popular show Around the World in 80 Days, is back with a one-man version of Treasure Island. Meanwhile over at new venue The Market Place Sian Dudley takes that spirit of adventure online with WOW, a show exploring the idea of a virtual reality in which heroic fantasies are limitless. Chris Neville-Smith has something to say about the whole notion of hero-worship in his one-man show Waiting for Gandalf.

It’s hard to beat the intensity of one-person shows – Cameryn Moore has already won acclaim for her taboo-busting performance in Phone Whore as has Doug Devaney for his tragic-comic play The Angina Monologue. Stand by for a glimpse into a woman’s soul in Shrew, new writing by Ami Jones, and in Alan Bennett’s Talking Head, Soldiering On, revived by library theatre touring company.

Ginny Davis decides to "plus one" in Fashionably Late
But it’s also interesting to see that Fringe favourite Ginny Davis, nominated for a Fringe Award in 2011, has broken with her one-woman format in her humorous latest show Fashionably Late about a family struggling against adversity to organise a party. She is joined on stage by James Goldsworthy who trained with the Year Out Drama Company, Stratford upon Avon, and has delighted preview audiences performing 9 of the 13 roles in Fashionably Late. “Quite simply, he's a natural.” Ginny tells us. “I'm delighted to be performing alongside such a talented 21 year old. He is just as thrilled to be sharing the stage with a woman old enough to be his grandmother. He's never said so, but you can tell, can't you?”

Whether boasting one, two, three or more performers, Fringe shows, often in tiny venues, have a way of promising a special intimacy in any case. We’d be interested to hear from performers about why they do or don’t go solo and from audiences about which they prefer – let us know…

Buxton Fringe

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