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Barnstaple Fringe Theatrefest






“To celebrate the fabulous fun of Fringe TheatreFest we’ve doubled what’s on offer!”

“Building on ten years experience, we’re adding a whole raft of outdoor shows and shows in informal spaces: Shakespeare outside, magic in cafes, dancing on benches, hi-jinx in the High Street – and much, much more.”

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

Find a venue

Book tickets

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Follow Theatrefest’s Bill Buffery on Twitter @BillBuffery

Also find them on Facebook

View Theatrefest on Instagram

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.

Luck Dog Laurel & Hardy

1 Hats off to Laurel and Hardy

2 Twelfth Night (or What You Will)

3 Fruitcake – Ten Commandments from the Psych Ward

4 The Assassination of Spencer Percival

5 Abi Roberts: Anglichanka

6 Witch

7 It’s My Funeral and I’ll Throw Glitter if I Want To

8 Storyteller of the Year Entertains

9 The Organised Chaos



I Want to See … at Theatrefest

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

I want to see…

… Laurel and Hardy. Then see Hats off to Laurel and Hardy

… a semi-immersive piece of pop-up theatre. Then see Wood

… some theatre based on a true story. Then see The  Bundle

… an acclaimed children’s show. Then see Alf the Highwayman

… some street theatre. Then see Have You Seen Molly?

… a family show with magic. Then see Seska – Fruit Salad!

… some dance. Then see Etch

… some new writing. Then see Remedies – A Ballad of Broken Britain

… some music and dance from South Africa. Then see South African Song and Dance

… some improvised theatre. Then see Square Bench

… some storytelling. Then see Storyteller of the Year Entertains

… some Shakespeare. Then see Twelfth Night (Or What You Will)

… a short film. Then see Warm-Up

… a play. Then see Witch

… some physical theatre. Then see The Elevator

… something for the whole family. Then see The Fisher Knight’s Tale

… some myths and legends. Then see The Forgotten Tales

… some live spoken word literature. Then see Well Thumbed

… a choir. Then see Transition Choir

More to come


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…


More to come

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…

a beautiful idiot fisherman raised by performing elephants

He’s the only Prime Minister ever to be assassinated.

She is the dark dream of our broken hearts demanding to be reclaimed.

Sam Gibbs will save the World

What happens when technology and ego replace the human and the soul?

All the scrapes and claustrophobia of an overcrowded elevator taken to the extreme

this libertine and ribald celebration contains historically robust language & subject matter”

More to come.



 Bryony Joy Chave-Cox from MishMash talks about The Karaoke Experience

What’s the theme of your show? 

How, why, and IF humans should express themselves! Charlotte Loves Karaoke.

Liz Hates Karaoke. Liz wants to go out, but they can’t decide where to go.
Will they ever leave the flat?

What’s new or unique about the show?

The two lead characters are occassionally played by inanimate objects. The show takes place in a found venue, usually somewhere near whatever local venue has a Karaoke night running. It explores lots of different ways humans hijack others words or actions to express themselves. It’s a 101of short cuts to expression.

How did the show come into being?

I was interested in the ways society permits and frowns upon public and private expressions of emotion.

Describe one of your rehearsals.

There’s music playing in the background and/or a DVD player showing a movie or sitcom. Some of the performers are re-using the actions, words, or emotions they see hear, or feel and transplanting them into the story of our main characters…someone is wearing a pink rain hat.

How is the show developing?

Well, so far!

How have you experimented?

One of my favourite ideas was that of a Karaoke Support group…something like Alcoholics Anonomous, but all the members are addicted to Karaoke.

What are your future plans for the show ?

The show is likely to continue it’s local tour if received well.

What are your favourite shows, and why?

Anything that challenges me and entertains me simultaneously.

Show dates, times and booking info: Catch the show at it’s first public viewing @ 8pm on the1st June 2017 The Plough Arts Centre Torrington
Call 01805 624 624
Thurs 29th June 2017
Friday 30th June 2017
Saturday 1st July 2017


Jon Buckeridge from Parable Arts talks about The Forgotten Tales


What’s the theme of your show?

The British Isles are a tapestry woven with myths, legends and folk-tales. From Manx magicians to Cornish cats, the cultures of our kingdom are captured in our stories… but stories left untold will fade into forgetfulness.
The Forgotten Tales reignites the spark of the hilarious, heroic and heart-breaking stories that were once a steady flame across the land.

What’s new or unique about the show?

The Forgotten Tales comprises a collection of stories that were once commonplace in our Celtic cultures, with sources ranging from the Welsh Mabinogion and the Irish Finnean cycles, to local legend and folks-tales. Now one performer brings them back to life, presenting dozens of distinct characters across a range of artfully crafted adventures; playing multiple instruments at once, singing in three different languages, and seamlessly flowing through a range of accents and attitudes (and no small amount of perspiration) that will leave you utterly convinced there’s a cast of hundreds.

How did the show come into being?

Parable Arts is a collective of cross-disciplinary artists, with the sole aim of seeking, shaping and sharing stories. We firmly believe that stories are the basis of all communication, and they have the power to shape society. Recently the entire Western world seems to be going through a crisis of identity, with increasingly separatist and strong-border rhetoric becoming a lot of nations’ go-to policy. In the midst of that we wanted to explore some of the cultural roots of our nation, and the stories that helped ancient Celtic nations to know who they were, what they had in common with their neighbours, and what helped them grow and work together. Ultimately we wanted to rediscover that wisdom that our ancestors always knew; that sharing a story, no matter where it’s from or who tells it, will bring everyone that little bit closer together. Perhaps that sounds naive, but in ever performance we’ve done, so far, each audience has come in as strangers and left united, at least for that small moment – that, to me, is powerful.

Describe one of your rehearsals.

A one-man show is a lot of hard work to perform, and even harder to rehearse; whereas most performances have that brilliant sense of ensemble, with the team bouncing off each other to bring out the best in the text, that delightful luxury is removed from you when exploring this branch of the craft. Fortunately our wonderful director, Miriam Sarin, was able to work with me to push me through the physicality, musicality and sheer pace that the production required.

I’ve always been quite a gifted vocalist, and really handy with accents and dialects, so that side came quite quickly (though the Manx accent is really hard to get to grips with), so a lot of our rehearsals became about Miriam pushing me outside of that comfort-zone, and driving me to make my physicality as malleable as my vocalisations, and marrying the two together to get the sweet spot of story and pace to make this work to its potential. Fortunately Miriam has the patience of about four saints.

How is the show developing?

This show is pretty unique in that it’s a series of stories, which means we can add or remove stories and songs as we need to. This has been a great experience, because it’s mean that as we discover a new story, or a song that we really think should be included, then it’s easy to put them into the performance for that night, so in that sense this is the most continually evolving show I’ve ever performed. This offers a real sense of customisation and a unique experience for each audience. For example, we recently we went back to the town I was born in, and I brought to life a legend that’s native to the village I lived in as a child (the story of the Dead-Man’s Acre) – which everyone in the audience knew was a local story, so it was completely personal to them, as a crowd.

How has the writer been involved?

As the writer myself, I’d have to say I’ve been highly involved. One thing I’ve learned, though, is that each story will have a myriad of interpretations and variations, and quite often a lot of different areas will lay a claim to the same story or characters, so when re-imagining and presenting a story we’re careful to present this as *an interpretation* – not the Gospel truth, as it were.

How have you experimented?

We used a lot of physical theatre techniques, such as some great exercises from Gabriella Roth and Jaques LeCoq, to bring these world to life and populate them with a diverse cast of characters. This was complimented with a series of mask-work sessions, to make sure that I wasn’t just relying on an accent to do the work of a character, and a whole LOT of filming and reviewing footage, so I could really see where I needed to build and expand upon the craft and techniques of the art of storytelling.

Beyond that we experimented with different storytelling styles for each tale. It wouldn’t be as engaging if each one was the same style or technique, so we varied up the repertoire with song, verse, physicality and vocal-dexterity to make a diverse and interesting evening for everyone.

Where do your ideas come from?

As with most good ideas, they blindside you when you’re not expecting them. That was certainly the case with the writing and rehearsal process, and quite often I surprised myself with where on earth ideas popped up from. That said this show involved a lot of hours spent in libraries researching ancient texts and books of British myths and legends, and a great many hours listening to a wide array of folk-music and storytelling songs.

How do your challenge yourself or yourselves?

I think the whole team has learned a lot about the impact these stories can have. It’s easy to think they might be just silly little stories with whimsical value at best, but I’ve been amazed how quickly audiences bond to your heroes, and there’s one story from Scotland that has never yet failed to bring a tear to the audiences. There’s a reason why they’ve survived (in some form) for thousands of years, and so one challenge has always been to make sure that we do them justice and honour their heritage.

What are your future plans for the show ?

As I said, this is a continually evolving show, so I’d like to see it with a long shelf-life. It’s diverse and flexible and can fit almost anywhere, so I’d like to see it toured widely. I’ve come to realise how important these stories can be, and in many ways they’re the heritage of all the people who call this quirky collection of Islands home, so I’m quite keen to see this brought into environments where people will connect with it. I’d quite like to perform it in a castle… or lots of castles… though that might just be because I like castles.

Show times and dates 

Thursday 29th June – 6.30pm – The Guildhall
Friday 30th June – 7.00pm – The Guildhall
Saturday 1st July – 2.30pm – The Guildhall
Sunday 2nd July – 2.30pm – The Guildhall
Book here: www.theatrefest.co.uk


Comedy Preview

Abi Roberts: Anglichanka*

The First UK comic to perform in Russia (in Russian) tells all.

About the show

In 2016, Abi Roberts became the first UK comedian to perform in Russia – in Russian! Now, in 2017, the centenary of the Russian Revolution, she’s here to shed some light on our continental neighbours and tell us what side of a blini is buttered.

Just pipping Eddie Izzard to the accolade, Abi’s world first came at the bilingual Moscow Comedy Bar and Club. This was her first visit since an intensive period of trips to Moscow in the 1990s that came about because of her studies and because her dad was a diplomat.

During this time, Abi become an opera singer at the Moscow Conservatoire, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church and an expert on how matches and sawdust are vital to the country’s plumbing when it’s minus 17 degrees outside!

Abi’s return to Moscow was a crash course in new Russian culture. Noticing signs of wealth everywhere, and cars much evolved since the days of the Lada, Abi found the trip bewildering and a steep learning curve.

Join Abi as she tried to get to grips with a heady mix of being monitored, crossing the paths of gangsters, overwhelming hospitality, fear of Putin and the strange disappearance of street kiosks.

Anglichanka (Englishwoman) climaxes with a spectacular sequence where Abi recounts almost performing opera for the Russian President and how she narrowly escaped with her life during the attempted military coup of 1991.

About the performer

Abi Roberts and her big hair exploded onto the stand-up comedy scene in 2011, after a number of years as a session vocalist and cabaret performer. In her four years in professional stand-up comedy, Abi has supported household names such as Michael McIntyre, Sarah Millican, Jack Whitehall and Tom Stade and is to be found performing at many of the UK’s leading comedy clubs, such as The Glee Club, Komedia and The Stand.

Abi was a Finalist and Runner-Up in the London Comedy Store’s Costa Light Comedy Competition in 2012, a Finalist and Runner-Up in the 2012 Harrogate Theatre’s Comedian of the Year and took the Audience Award at the same festival.

Abi also hosts her own chat show MUSICAL CID where well-known comedians talk about their music collections, which featuring comedy stars such as Al Murray, Romesh Ranganathan, Seann Walsh, Mark Dolan, Jo Caulfield and Jarred Christmas.

Show details

Friday 30 June, 9pm at The Golden Lion Tap, The Square, Barnstaple, Devon EX32 8LS

Book here

Abi Roberts’ web links and social media

Web: www.abiroberts.com and chat show: www.musicalcid.com
Twitter: @abiroberts https://twitter.com/abiroberts

Friday 30 June, 9pm Friday 30 June, 9pm

Social Media at Theatrefest

Here are some of the top tweeters at Theatrefest…






More to come