Buxton Fringe theatre brings history to life

Theatre at the Buxton Fringe (July 6-24) is renowned for its richness and diversity with many of this year’s performers recreating the stories and characters of the past.

The 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare does not go unnoticed. Established Fringe favourites Butterfly return to Poole’s Cavern with Romeo and Juliet Underground - audiences are advised to book early for their magical recreation of the ruins of Verona in Shakespeare’s classic love story. Or how about the “Marvel”-ously titled Shakespeare's Avengers Assembleth: Age of Oberon from Drake's Drummers Theatre Company? Shakespeare has been kidnapped by the Fairy-King, and his greatest heroes must band together to rescue their creator.

As we pass through the bicentenaries of the publication of Jane Austen’s novels, two shows take her as their inspiration. As old Buxton hands, Three’s Company, tell us, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a Fringe worth its salt must be in want of an Austen-themed farce, and here it is in Nonsense and Sensibility, in collaboration with Anonymous is a Woman. Also providing an offbeat interpretation is Nonesuch Theatre Company’s Jane and Lizzy. Austen, revisiting her story, is looking for answers, but can Lizzy supply the ones she wants?

Some of the biggest hits at recent Fringes have combined theatre with music. This year on the 450th anniversary of Carlo Gesualdo's birth, Finbar Lynch presents the final day of his life in Breaking the Rules, with pieces from his Tenebrae Responsories and madrigals performed by the internationally-renowned Marian Consort. Raving Mask’s The Conductor, a play for two actors and a pianist, recounts the remarkable story of Shostakovich’s struggle with his 7th Symphony during the 1941 siege of Leningrad. Meanwhile returning revamped and reworked is an audience favourite from last year, Far West Theatre’s Jacques Brel: A Life a Thousand Times, taking a journey through Brel's life via his songs and thoughts.

Following sell-out shows last year, Lucky Dog returns with Hats Off to Laurel and Hardy, featuring their life stories alongside their routines; audiences are likely to laugh their socks off before having their hearts broken. Less frequently remembered, the feminist, writer and mother, Constance Lloyd, is usually recalled as the wife of that most infamous of Victorians, Oscar Wilde. Her story is looked at on its own merit in Mrs Oscar Wilde by Wild Wolfe Productions.

Reflecting on the Great War, Breathe Out Theatre’s War Stories features an Australian nurse and a Manchester soldier in hospital, each with one more story to tell. In Lest We Forget from the award-winning Edinburgh company, Aulos Productions, one family struggles to reconcile memories of their son with the truth - does the mud of the Somme mask the man he truly was? Taking a more irreverent approach to the Second World War, Patricia Hartshorne gets In The Fuehrer’s Face, offering a mix of the comic and surreal, and shedding new light on the toothbrush moustache!

Moving into the 1950s, different perspectives on that decade are offered by NoLogoProductions in After We Danced, which tells the story of a couple that never see each other again after one glorious summer together, and Rusted Dust, in whose thriller, The Communist Threat, two secret service agents await orders to execute a communist traitor staying in the hotel above them.

Details of these and many more theatre shows can be found at www.buxtonfringe.org.uk and in the widely available free Fringe programme.

The Fringe wishes to thank its sponsor The University of Derby as well as financial supporters The Trevor Osborne Charitable Trust and High Peak Borough Council, its Fringe Friends and the town’s many Fringe supporters and venues.

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