Our pick of the London Fringe Spring 2016
We've almost made it through the first two months of the year, meaning Spring is certainly just around the corner. With lighter nights and less time spent hugging our heaters, now is the time to get out and about and take in some of the London fringe's Spring 2016 highlights.
London is blessed with a number of fantastic venues that lie slightly off the beaten track and away from the glaring lights of the West End. With just a little research, you may find one of the city's many fringe venues literally on your own doorstep. With new venues popping up all over the capital, the fringe scene is certainly thriving and provides audiences and theatre fans multiple opportunities to take in some exciting new theatre from a wide range of backgrounds.
Whilst the fringe may feel like quite a daunting prospect, we've put together a list of some of the exciting upcoming productions to suit a broad variety of interests. From well worn and award winning venues, to the lesser known hidden gems - read on to see our pick of the London Fringe this Spring...
Consistently one of London's most dynamic fringe venues, The Southwark Playhouse boasts two different sized spaces, allowing variety in programming and appeal. Whilst the main house continues to build on its reputation for delivering high quality musical theatre productions, many of which transfer from Broadway or off-Broadway, the Small Space allows for more experimentation in terms of genre and subject matter.
Situated a short walk from Elephant and Castle or Borough Tube stations, it's certainly one of the coolest venues in London with an excellent bar and cafe area to enjoy before and after the show. We're rejoicing at the fact that the Large Space has now introduced reserved seating - so visits to the venue will be even easier and more comfortable than before.
Highlights this spring at the venue include an exciting new all female production of Cyranno de Bergerac adapted by Glyn Maxwell from the play by Edmond Rostand which is currently running to 19 March 2016, directed by Russell Bolam. Those familiar with the tale (or its big screen version 'Roxanne') will love seeing the story through fresh eyes in what is a unique retelling with a fantastic cast.
We are particularly excited for Luce by JC Lee which runs from 9 March to 2 April, starring Bake Off favourite Mel Giedroyc in a production directed by Simon Dormandy.
Looking further ahead, the wonderful Katie Lipson and Aria Entertainment will present the European premiere of off-Broadway cult musical The Toxic Avenger from 22 April to 21 May 2016, which will continue the venue's trend for high quality musical theatre premieres.
For more information about The Southwark Playhouse and to book tickets, visit their website by clicking here.
The Park Theatre is one of London's newest fringe venues and has gained a reputation for delivering a wide range of excellent new drama across its two venues - the 200 and the 90. Situated in Finsbury Park, the building is easily accessible and has a friendly bar and cafe, creating a superb atmosphere for a north London cultural hub. A favourite of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North, the venue is looked after by Artistic Director Jez Bond, and it won the Stage's Fringe Theatre of the Year Award 2015.
The programming is diverse and constant, meaning there is always a reason for a repeat visit to take in productions across both venues. Current highlights this Spring include:
Patriotic Traitor by Jonathan Lynn which stars Tom Conti as Philippe Petain and Laurence Fox as Charles de Gaulle and tells how their noble, comic and absurd relationship changed history. Running to 19 March 2016, don't miss out on this compelling drama directed by Jonathan Lynn.
This is followed by Don't Sleep There are Snakes by Sebastian Armesto and Dudley Hinton which is based on the true story and book by Daniel Everett that sees him sent into the jungle with a clear purpose: to learn their language and convert them to Christianity. As he struggles to communicate, he uncovers a culture like nothing he’s ever imagined. The production runs from 22 March to 23 April 2016.
Further ahead, we're also excited for The Busker's Opera which updates the popular Beggar's Opera to London in 2012, the night before the Opening Ceremony. A group of street performers called 'the 99percenters,' gather in protest against the over-priced, corporate games, in a new musical take by Dougal Irvine.
For more information about The Park Theatre and to book tickets, visit their website by clicking here.
One of the oldest Pub Theatres in London, The King's Head have achieved recognition for providing high quality and groundbreaking productions across opera, drama and musical theatre. The venue attracts some of the best talent on the London stage, and many of their productions find new life in larger venues.
Comic Opera return to the venue to present a new version of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte, which follows a cynical gentleman’s conviction that women cannot be faithful and sets in motion a chain of deceit, disguise and desire. The Opera will play alongside Cosi, a play by Louis Nowra which follows a young theatre director who is staging a production of the comic opera with a cast of patients from a mental institution, none of whom can speak Italian... or sing.
New musical Something Something Lazarus featuring book and lyrics by John Myatt and music by Simon Arrowsmith runs at the venue from 8 March to 2 April. "Enter the world of cabaret, where the wine ain’t fine but the company’s classy. Meet Vee, clinging to the stage. Della, attacking piano. Jay in his pants at the bar. And of course Daniel, as always, barely managing."
For more information about The King's Head Theatre and to book tickets, visit their website by clicking here.
The newly renovated Wilton's Music Hall is one of London's best kept secrets. As a performance venue, the incredible architecture looks back at a forgotten era, and gives audiences a stunning look at one of very few surviving music halls with original features. Situated in Tower Hamlets, the venue is run as a multi-arts performance space and produces a wide range of different styles of performance.
Acclaimed director Max Stafford Clark brings the Out of Joint Company to the venue to deliver a new production of Samuel Beckett's All That Fall from 22 March to 9 April 2016, starring Brid Brennan, Killian Burke, Frank Laverty, Gary Lilburn, and Ciaran McIntyre. Described as a 'bawdy and unpredictable tale' it charts the faltering journey of elderly Maddy Rooney as she ventures along a country road to surprise her blind husband at the train station for his birthday treat.
The combination of stunning venue, incredible play and legendary director does not come around often. Make sure you get ahead of the game and grab tickets before they sell out.
For more information about Wilton's Music Hall and to book tickets, visit their website by clicking here.
In the heart of Victoria lies The St James Theatre, one of London's most recent additions to the fringe scene. With a larger upstairs venue and an exciting Studio space, the venue is home to a variety of different productions - from one night cabarets to longer running UK premieres.
This season we're particularly excited for the world premiere of brand new musical Miss Atomic Bomb by Adam Long, Gabriel Vick and Alex Jackson-Long which runs from 7 March to 9 April. With an incredible cast lined up including Catherine Tate, Dean John-Wilson, Daniel Boys, and Florence Andrews, this brand new and original musical comedy features direction and choreography by Bill Deamer. With new British musicals being particularly rare at the moment, we're ready to laugh our way through this hilarious concept which blends beauty pageants with nuclear bomb testing in Las Vegas. What's not to like?!
The modern classic play My Mother Said I Never Should by Charlotte Keatley also runs at the venue from 13 April to 21 May 2016 in a production directed by Paul Robinson. The drama explores the lives and relationships of four generations of women, and is one of the most performed modern plays of recent years.
For more information about The St James Theatre and to book tickets, click here.
One of London's most unique new performance venues is right in the heart of central London. Taking over the site of the former Central St Martins College, Found111 has presented a number of popular dramas including 'The Dazzle' starring Andrew Scott. Emily Dobbs productions returns to the space with a new production of Tracy Letts' Bug which runs from 24 March to 7 May 2016.
Starring James Norton and Kate Fleetwood, Letts' play is set in a seedy motel room in Oklahoma City. Agnes, a lonely cocktail waitress, is holed-up from her violent ex-con ex-husband, seeking solace in drink and drugs. Until a stranger arrives.
Found111 has a hipster vibe, complete with impressive bar and open architecture that adds a certain level of interest to each of the productions before the drama has even begun. This is one venue that should definitely be on your radar, and Letts' drama is a fitting play to experience at this invigorating new space.
For more information about Found111 and to book tickets, click here.