C Venues will this year be celebrating 25 years at the Fringe, which doesn’t really feel possible. How can something that always manages to feel so new – fresh, exciting and slightly secretive – be older than many of the performers gracing its stage?
Part of C Venues’ strength is that, unlike some of the other large venues, each of their sites feels genuinely distinct. And, in celebration of their silver anniversary, they’re adding the brand new venue C Scala, over at St Stephen’s Church on the edge of Stockbridge. Described as ‘especially suited for larger-scale productions, complex technical needs and aerial work’, they’ll be putting all this to the test with Tipping Point, the new show by Ockham’s Razer, featuring 5 very high poles, exquisite physical skill and new music by Adem Ilhan and Quinta. Other highlights in the New Town include the magical children’s show The Snow Queen, the Soweto Spiritual Singers and the classical guitar extravaganza Lord of the Strings.
There’s a surfeit of Shakespeare offerings as well – something that, given the 400-year anniversary of the Bard’s death, is likely to crop up even more than usual at the Fringe. One of the more left-field options is Blood Will Have Blood, an interactive audio-immersive interpretation of sections of Macbeth. Following the children of Banquo after his murder, this promises to be an intense and extremely up-close production – not least because only 12 audience members will be allowed in for each performance. There’s more from the Scottish Play, this time recast with a grime and Afro Beat soundtrack, and put together by Hackney Empire and Twist Theatre, and Song of the Beast (After Hamlet), an extremely violent reimagining of the rotting state of Denmark, set in a Korean slaughter house. Or, if you fancy something a little lighter, the ever popular Shakespeare for Breakfast returns, for a rather gentler way to start the day.
More contemporary writing – including theatre, musicals and mime – is also richly varied. There’s a wordless and incredibly physical Dracula; a Jules Verne triptych featuring Journey to the Centre of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Lighthouse at the End of the World; Murder She Didn’t Write, an improvised who-dunnit which has garnered a string of 4 and 5 star reviews; a noir take on H G Wells’ The Invisible Man; a charming take on Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat; and Shhhh, An Improvised Silent Movie, complete with a live ragtime piano.
To cap it all, the first week of the Fringe will see The Great British Make Off, where audiences will have the chance to watch artists live in action, creating whatever they fancy with materials sourced from scrap yards, art shops and donations from the public. Free-flowing creativity in action – it sums up all that’s best about C.