What to see at Buxton Fringe

Buxton Festival Fringe runs from 5th – 23rd July 2023.

Buxton Fringe could rightly lay claim to being the Uk’s third largest fringe festival. Or indeed, festival fringe. Yes, Buxton Festival Fringe is the fringe festival for Buxton International Festival but, like Brighton and Edinburgh has grown to a scale where it is really the senior partner.

What we at FringeReview rather like about the fringe is that it features theatre, something not listed as a genre in the International Festival listings. Buxton Festival Fringe is really now a fringe-in-itself, not really sitting on the fringe of anything, though still very much laying righftul claim to hosting and being a platform for plenty of “fringe” theatre, comedy and many other genres. See our early theatre choices here.

So, what to see? Here is our handy guide which will be growing in the run up to, and during the Fringe.

Here are ten shows you should catch before the end of the Fringe…

… for acclaimed solo comedy, see David McIver: Small Boy Trapped in a Wellness Retreat

… for legendary, intelligent solo comedy, it has to be Aidan Goatley: 10 Films with my Dad

… for some unmissable piano, the book now for Piano Postcards

… for the whole family, you’ll need to get along to see Mr Sleepybum

… an acclaimed story and song show, sit back and savour Unwanted Objects

… for a show drawn from the ideas and work of Virginia Woolf and rating Outstanding by FringeReview, see Room

… for some musical theatre celebrating the life of one of the 20th century’s brightest British stars, Cicely Courtneidge, through the music of Coward, Novello, Gershwin and more, book “Things Are Looking Up!”: The Songs of Cicely Courtneidge

… Tom Greaves (BFI Award winner) presenting a dark satire about the psychological trauma of his own “privileged” childhood, you should grab a ticket for Goodbye Uncle Fudge

… for a comedy night, bringing some of the best comedians in the UK to Buxton Fringe in a club-style show, then catch Ingenious Fools Comedy Night

And some of these shows may still be on…

I want to see…

… a joyful, surreal, comedy tale of avian adventure, AI and 38,000 starlings. Then see Steve Vertigo’s MURMURATION

… some family-friendly storytelling. Then see SAINT GEORGE AND OTHER STORIES

… an award-winning autobiographical musical. Then see SEVEN AND A HALF YEARS

… a war veteran and mental health system survivor, who through a career in community music and songwriting, has found an entertaining, inspirational way to share insightful stories and experiences. Then see A POSITIVE MENTAL HEALTH SONGBOOK

… some improvised Shakespeare. Then see IMPROMPTU SHAKESPEARE

… solo theatre set during World War One. Then see THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER

… a  brand-new, one-woman musical from a talented composer and multi-instrumentalist. Then see IT’S MY LIFE.

… some theatre, seven pieces of new writing from a Buxton Fringe Award-nominated company. Then see THE SEVEN DEADLY GINS

Greg Byron

… some acclaimed spoken word. Then see #STANDUPPOET

… a theatre version of the classic novel Moby Dick. Then see MOBY DICK

… some mystery theatre – troubled characters, thrown together within the walls of a supposedly haunted council house in Enfield. Then see THE ENFIELD POLTERGEIST

… some stand-up spoken word comedy and music from the Beat Generation. Then see The Glummer Twins in AND THE BEAT GOES ON

… some youth theatre. Then see AIRBELL

… some promenade street theatre. Then see OLD HAUNTS

… an improvised musical. Tnen see THE TOTALLY IMPROVISED MUSICAL

Michael Grady-Hall & Tom Clegg (credit: Brother Brother)

… some film from local filmmakers. Then see ROAD TRIPPING BY YAZ & HAZ AL-SHAATER (Book via underthefringe.com) and also see the SHORT FILM EXHIBITION

… some solo standup comedy from a BBC New Voices Finalist. Then see DONNA SCOTT: BADGER

… award-winning ealry music. Then see LA DOLCE VITA: ITALIANS HOME AND AWAY at United Reformed Church – Purple Room: Church (55a) Map 8 Jul 7pm to 8:15pm. Eyam Parish Church, Eyam S32 5QH (97) Map 9 Jul 3pm to 4:15pm

… some acclaimed standup poetry. Then see #STANDUPPOET

… some theatre, a comic noir, solo show set around the Paris attacks. Then see NATION

… a solo Jewish musical comedy show. Then see THEY MAY HAVE EVEN EATEN HAM!

… some early evening theatre. Then see LOST AND FOUND

… an intelligent solo comedy show about mental health. Then see JULIETTE BURTON: NO BRAINER

… some top drawer magic and mentalism. Then see CASPER THOMAS: MAGIC AND MENTALISM

… award-winning surrealistic comedy about autism. Then see BEEHAVIOURAL PROBLEMS: SOMETHING SOMETHING AUTISM

More recommendations will be added regulalry, so do check back.

Magic Show Preview

Legendary magician, the Great Baldini, the Wizard of the West, brings his show ‘ILLUSIONATI – A Magical Conspiracy’ to the 2023 Buxton Festival Fringe.

After winning the best-in-category award at Buxton in 2022 Baldini is bringing a brand-new Magical Story to the Pump Room


It’s 1930s Britain: The Great Baldini is a fixture of the British Music Hall Magic Circuit. However, he has never quite achieved the success he feels he truly deserves, and he suspects that an unseen power is working against him. When Baldini obtains the diary of the Great Lafayette, a clue scribbled on the last page identifies a secret cabal of Magicians (the ILLUSIONATI) as this power.

Baldini is determined to find and confront the ILLUSIONATI and finally take his rightful place as the preeminent magician of his age. The show takes audiences on a thrilling journey of mystery and intrigue, as Baldini reveals the secrets of the ILLUSIONATI. Combining comedy, storytelling, and miraculous effects, Baldini will captivate and amaze audiences of all ages.

About the performer

‘The Great Baldini’ is a member of the Magic Circle and an award-winning member of both Bristol Society of Magic and Wessex Magical Association.  His work has been described as ‘Incredible’ by Front Row.

After appearing at Buxton, ILLUSIONATIwill be presented in Shaftesbury, Edinburgh and undertake a national tour in the autumn of 2023.

Show details

‘ILLUSIONATI: A Magical Conspiracy’ (50 minutes) By the Great Baldini
The Pump Room, The Pump Room, The Crescent, Buxton, SK17 6BH

11th to 15th July | 17:20 | £10 (£7 conc) (£28 family)


Booking and information here.


On a journey – Chapel Arts Creative Writing Group performs live at the Fringe! 

Whether it is the path least taken or the path back to the carpark, Chapel Arts Creative Writing Group from Chapel-en-le-Frith in the High Peak will be considering journeys big or small for its spoken word performance at this year’s Buxton Festival Fringe (July 5th to 23rd).

The thriving group of writers, some of whom are award-winning published authors, will be sharing a wide variety of stories, poetry, mini-plays and more at two special events, one on July 17th at 7.30pm to 9pm and the other a matinée on July 22nd at 2pm to 3.30pm. Different material is likely to feature at each.

The show, entitled “Journeys”, looks set to avoid cliché, with many different interpretations of the theme. Subject matter includes a journey through dementia; two epic journeys to Durham Cathedral, centuries apart; the view from the back of a motorbike; the story of a garden’s gradual deconstruction by professional landscapers; the journey through life; virtual reality travels; a sci-fi adventure; and a comic poem exploring one alpha male’s inability to take in road directions. 

Led by author Mark Henderson, the group is open to all but includes professional writers among its ranks. This year the group has already published a booklet of short stories, “Someone Here Will Commit a Murder”, and created a play set in a GP’s waiting room featuring monologues from the entire group. 

Says Mark: ‘As always, it’s proving a pleasure and a privilege to work with these creative writers. The quality of their work is matched by their enthusiasm and their infectious enjoyment, as this year’s “Journeys” performances will show. I’m looking forward to July 17th and 22nd!’  

A registered charity, Chapel Arts was formed to encourage the development of a broad range of arts in the Chapel-en-le-Frith area. Details of events, including regular spoken word performances, are available on www.chapelarts.org.uk. The site also includes the Writing Group’s filmed and recorded readings created for the Fringe in 2021 and 2020 and will be updated with transcripts from this year’s live performances.