Friday 24 April 2015

Happy Bardweek

In the week that sees the anniversary of Shakespeare's birth and death it seems fitting that we should highlight the exciting range of Bard-themed work on offer at this year's Fringe.

A couple of theatre companies return to Buxton with distinctive approaches to Shakespeare's work. Butterfly are performing As You Like It in Poole's Cavern from 20-25 July. With three, one-hour shows every evening you have little excuse to miss this - but there will be just 40 tickets for each performance and they will sell quickly. This will be an event with magic all of its own.

The Smooth-Faced Gentlemen have lit-up recent Buxton Fringes. For 2015 they bring back their brilliant adaptation of Titus Andronicus and premiere their version of Othello. The Gentlemen (an all-women company) are in town from 12-18 July and perform at the Arts Centre Studio. Past productions have been blisteringly pacey and passionate tellings of Shakespeare's stories with a faithful adherence to the texts.

Smaller in scale, but no less ambitious, is King Lear (Alone). At The Old Clubhouse from 23-25 July this is a new play by Edinburgh Fringe award-winning playwright Frank Bramwell. A thought-provoking reworking of the original, using the words of Shakespeare. This fascinating play takes us along Lear's journey following Cordelia's death, to re-examine the original themes and insights, from a completely different angle.

The mood will be very different at Underground Venues when a cast of two takes on A Midsummer Night's Dream. Uproot Theatre Company have stripped the play down to an hour, and there will be three performances between 14-18 July.

No Buxton Fringe would be complete with the Shakespeare Jukebox and small, but perfectly formed, ensemble will perform much-loved scenes from some of the best-known plays. Performances take place on the Opera House forecourt on many evenings throughout the Fringe. This high-energy show is Free - but please give generously to collections for local charities.

In the Dance category is Fringe award-winning performer Makoto Inoue with Clown Macbeth, a brand-new, non-verbal version of the Scottish play. Taking its inspiration from the traditional dances of Okinawa, Japan's most cultural and spiritual island, the show is a physical fusion of Western and Eastern influences and genres. Makoto dances between 18-21 July.

Finally, there are two shows that take their inspiration from Shakespeare. At midday on 18 July the Ukulele Orchestra joins in a genre-crashing supergroup with Elizabeth Kenny's Theatre of the Ayre, singing songs across the centuries and playing lute, theorbo, cittern, Renaissance guitar… and ukuleles. The playlist shows the common ground between rock and baroque from Shakespeare's King's Men to The King. This is happening at St John's Church and is likely to be one the biggest events on the Fringe this year.

Taking issue with Will is Emma Bentley who uses comedy, clown, and storytelling to tackle the trials and tribulations of playing Shakespeare's men, without a codpiece. Emma will be at Underground Venues from 11-14 July.

The Buxton Fringe 2015 programme is now complete - with 171 events and 570 separate performances. We'll be previewing it all over the coming weeks - and the printed programme will be available from 1st June. Meanwhile you can see what you have to look forward to on our website.

Buxton Fringe

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