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Barnstaple Fringe Theatrefest

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June 23rd-26th 2016

Now over for 2016

Barnstaple Fringe Theatrefest has to be one of the hidden gems of the Fringe Theatre scene. Running over just four days, it is also probably the most do-able Fringe in the country, with plenty of theatre on offer and the chance to see all or most of it in one trip!

“38 different companies from the UK and beyond offering over 120 performances in 4 days. There’s a heady mix of events to provoke, delight and entertain.”

Essential Links

The programme is here.

Browse shows by time here.

Find theatre shows here

Follow them on twitter.

Follow Theatrefest’s Bill Buffery on Twitter @BillBuffery

Also find them on Facebook

Support this unique festival going forwards with a donation

Our coverage was…


Our Top Ten Recommended Shows

These are our top ten recommended shows based on our review and preview team’s choices. We keep our ear to the ground and also have seen some of the companies elsewhere.

My First Ten Sexual Failures and Other Stories About Growing Up

Forget Me Not – The Alzheimer’s Whodunnit

Just Like That! The Tommy Cooper Show

4 Brickhead: Yeah Yeah, Yeah?

Graveside Manner

When We Grow Up We’ll Be Old

Shakespeare Avengers Assembleth: Age of Oberon

Drive By

Nose Business

10 What’s the Matter? A comedy about physics

I Want to See … at Theatrefest

Here is our quirky but highly useful show-finding tool…

I want to see…

… a show about space. Then see 9Ft²

… something historical. Then see The Sentence

… some comedy about Shakespeare. Then see Shakespeare Avengers Assembleth: Age of Oberon

… some storytelling. Then see Travellers’ Tales

… a show about Africa. Then see Under African Skies

… something about Barnstaple. Then see When We Grow Up We’ll Be Old

… a solo Cold War thriller. Then see Szgrabble

… something interactive. Then see You Have Mail

… a comedy detective story. Then see The Totally Awesome Detective Agency

… a comedy abut physics. Then see What’s the Matter? A comedy about physics

… some dance theatre. Then see Bondagers

… something site-specific. Then see Drive By

… some solo theatre. Then see Broken Air

… a show about dogs. Then see Dog Show

… a clown show for adults. Then see Brickhead: Yeah, yeah, yeah?

… some dance. Then see Yel(low)

… a Samuel Beckett play. Then see Krapp’s Last Tape

…. a sell-out show from Adelaide. Then see My First Ten Sexual Failures and Other Stories About Growing Up


Link Collage

Here’s another way to choose a show at Theatrefest. Use your instincts and click on an image that draws you and you can reveal the show behind the image. Then get booking…




Keyword Chaos

We’ve selected evocative phrases from the Theatrefest programme. Click on the ones that intrigue you and you might just find the show you need to see…

the lives of female agricultural labourers

on a journey to worlds both weird and profound

Inhale, exhale. Fan the flames, cross the border

a young boy who runs away from his village

there’s no such thing as mermaids but Sally wants to convince him otherwise

the five basic needs of a child

the follies of youth and transported back nearly 60 years in time

There is a cunning mind buried deep … deep down inside her

Don’t shoot the messengers … They’re only playing.

a journey through his own experiment into the subatomic world

More to come.



John Hewer talks about  Just Like That! The Tommy Cooper Show

Just Like That! The Tommy Cooper Show

Company web site: http://www.jlt.hambledonproductions.com

What’s the theme of your show? JLT!, commissioned in 2014 to commemorate 30 years since the passing of Tommy Cooper, is an all-inclusive tribute to Britain’s greatest comedian of all time.

Jam-packed with the gags, the goofs, music and mirth, the show has since toured nationwide and enjoyed lengthy residency’s at the Museum of Comedy in London’s West End.

It is fully supported by The Tommy Cooper Estate, The Tommy Cooper Society and Tommy’s daughter, Vicky.

Describe one of your rehearsals.

I’ve performed the show over 100 times now, and every new ‘block’ of shows, we like to include something new. This means we now have over three hours of tried-and-tested material, which we pluck from to ‘suit’ each individual audience. The rehearsals are a joy as we delve into the repertoire.

What’s new or unique about the show?

Our show, unlike others, is a pure celebration of Tommy’s uniqueness. There’ll never be another like Tommy – there can’t be – so this show strives to captivate Tommy in his natural, and preferred, environment; working a live audience. Apart from his TV spots, this intimate aspect of his performance hasn’t been captured. So it’s this, plus a celebration of some of his finest and forgotten classic routines, tricks and jokes, that make this show stand out.

How did the show come into being?

I’m a huge fan of classic comedy, and so, after the success of our ‘Hancock’s Half Hour – The Lost Episodes’ in 2012, we wanted to look at the area of stand-up, something which, arguably, Tony Hancock struggled to pull off. Unlike Tommy’s contemporaries such as Morecambe and Wise and Les Dawson, Tommy constantly returned to live performing rather than his televisual work, believing it to be his best, and funniest, medium. Sadly, no footage exists of him working a live audience on the cabaret/theatre circuit (unlike his contemporaries), so we felt this was an interesting and entertaining aspect to explore.

How is the show developing?

The show was first produced, with the support of Tommy’s daughter Vicky, to mark the 30th anniversary of Tommy’s death. But we’ve found a recent surge for nostalgia and classic, timeless comedy. Tommy and his body of work and indeed everything he immortalised, sums up that bygone era, of variety days and family-friendly entertainment. The show has gone from strength to strength, particularly since we were booked for a 16-week run at the Museum of Comedy in the aptly named Cooper Room.

How has the writer been involved? Or describe the process of creating this work.

We’ve pulled in material from over 20+ of Tommy’s writers. Everything from bringing up subtitles on the DVDs, to meeting them one-to-one or sending scripts back and forth. As a writer, this part, for me, was a major highlight of the process.

How have you experimented?

We ran a series of about six (admittedly, very rickety) previews up and down the country in 2013 and early 2014, in 45-minute segments. A lot of it has been trial and error. The common reply from punters is “but it doesn’t matter if you go wrong, because you’re Tommy Cooper”, but of course, every nuance of that was worked out beforehand by the great man. So it was more a case of doing him and the material justice, particularly in the recreating of many of his most famous, most quotable stuff.


Show details:

Queens Theatre: Studio (Barnstaple, TheatreFest)

Thu 23rd – Sat 25th June, various times

Image result for news

Stories about Theatrfest from around the media

15 Jan 2016: Barnstaple Fringe TheatreFest back for more

(North Devon Gazette)


Social Media at Theatrefest

Here are some of the top tweeters at Theatrefest…






More to come