It is festival season and that means that in the next month there is so many great comedy festivals to look forward to! This month we are looking at some of the great shows that you can see at the Camden Fringe. So take note because we are going to give you all the information you need for just a handful of some of the great shows happening this year!
Orlando by Virginia Woolf
Location: Theatro Technis
Dates: Jul 31, Aug 1-4
Price: £15 concession £13
Ticket Link: https://www.camdenfringe.com/show.php?acts_id=2637
Hello Lou! Tell us about Marvellous Machine Theatre Company ?
Marvellous Machine Theatre Company was started just a few years ago by Artistic Director Lou Corben and Musical Director and multi-instrumentalist, Becki Jayne Reed. Our first production, The Tiger’s Bride, was in a tiny room above an Oxford pub with street noise leaking in, and the sound of cheering football fans coming from below! But the show was so immersive that our audiences barely noticed and said they felt like they’d been transported to another world. We’re inspired by magical realism, feminism and gender studies, and centre strong female and/or non-binary voices in our work.
Our shows are fully scored, like a movie, with original live music written by Becki on a wide variety of instruments from piano to kazoo! (Although it’s not a musical!) We’re a small ensemble-driven company with limited resources, yet the stories we tell are ones of castles, beasts, and magical transformations. We bring stories to life using live music and foley, comedy, object theatre, puppetry, and physical theatre. Some say that limitation breeds invention and that seems to be the case with us.
How did you come up with the name of your show that your taking to the Camden fringe?
ORLANDO is an adaptation of a Virginia Woolf novel, so we didn’t come up with the name ourselves, but there’s a theory put forward by Quentin Bell, Woolf’s nephew, that as the character of Orlando encompasses both male and female qualities, that the “or” and “and” in the name signify that!
Tell us a little bit about your style of show?
Our show has been described as “gender queer Tudor punk”. To begin our exploration into the text, we played with character constructs, switching parts from actor to actor. What, we wondered, does a man’s experience bring to the portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I, and what does a young woman bring to the portrayal of a 16th Century Russian Sea Captain? Woolf believed that “the androgynous mind is resonant and porous …naturally creative, incandescent”, so this approach seemed to connect wonderfully with ORLANDO.
We chatted to LGBTQIA+ English Literature and Queer Studies students from Oxford University, who helped guide us through some of Woolf’s most pertinent themes, and spent time diving into her gorgeously rich language and motifs. We tried meditative exercises to develop truer connections between Orlando and their loves, and experimented with ensemble-making games to help the chorus exist as one entity. The result is a joyful show full of laughter and warm-heartedness which we hope you’ll enjoy as much as we enjoyed making it.
What will your play be about?
When Virginia Woolf sat down in 1927 to write Orlando: A Biography, which has been called “the longest and most charming love-letter in history”, her intention was to pen “a joke… a writer’s holiday”, but this 90 year old story has serious resonance with today’s queer politics beneath its fun and frivolous surface. What is the self? Is a fixed identity possible? Can you ever really love or be loved until you have accepted your self, fixed or unfixed? These are just a few of the questions raised in ORLANDO, but these serious themes are presented in a funny, joyous adaptation,
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at the fringe?
We’re looking forward to Slackline Productions’ The Werewolf of Washington Heights at the Cockpit. We love work which plays with myths and fairytales to speak about contemporary life. We’ also can’t wait to see The Reduced Literature Degree by Shirley Halse at Camden Comedy Club, since we’re such big book nerds!
Have you done the fringe before? What have been some of your favourite shows to date and why?
We’ve not performed at Camden Fringe before, but have done Brighton Fringe. Our favourite show to date was in our hometown of Oxford, performing for a local crowd at the Burton Taylor Studio at Oxford Playhouse. We had such a warm reception which left us with a fuzzy feeling we want to share with Camden for our very first London performances!
What have been some of the most unique and different shows you have seen this year and why?
I absolutely loved Gecko Theatre’s The Wedding, which I saw twice, but the best performance of it was at the Barbican in London. It was a physical theatre piece about the contract, much like a marriage, each of us has with the state into which we’re born, and what happens if we decide to divorce ourselves from the state. The show ended with a musical piece with all the actors ecstatically clapping, stomping and singing in Esperanto, and the London audience joined in! I loved the energy of that London audience, which I hadn’t seen from another audience for the same show, so I’m excited to bring our show to a London crowd!
What advice would you give to others who want to perform at Camden Fringe next year?
This is our first year performing at Camden Fringe, so you’ll have to ask us next time!
What is the best thing about performing at the Camden fringe?
Camden is definitely one of the coolest places in London, so we’re looking forward to being a small part of its arts scene! We’re also looking forward to post show pints in all the amazing pubs, but wish the Black Cap, formerly Camden’s only LGBTQ+ venue, was still open so we could see some amazing drag cabaret! (Save the Black Cap: http://www.weareblackcap.com/)
What are your three favourite things about Camden?
The market, the pubs, and all the live music. I saw IDLES at the Electric Ballroom a few months back which was amazing. Got to love some inclusive, feminist post punk!
Favourite one liner you have done in a show and why?
ORLANDO doesn’t really have one liners. The comedy mainly comes from characters’ interactions, for example there’s a really funny scene with an cringe-inducingly awkward conversation between a couple.
Who would be your ultimate dream audience member?
My favourite author is Angela Carter, who sadly passed away on my second birthday. Her writing combines sublime poetry with crass humour in a really exciting way which inspires us. If she was still alive, we think she’d love our production of ORLANDO, although she apparently wasn’t a big fan of Virginia Woolf! I think we could change her mind.
The iconic image of the Camden Fringe is the Pigeon – if you could call this years pigeon a name to represent its style what would it be and why?
She sort of reminds me of the character Harriet in ORLANDO so we’d name her after Harriet! Her full name is The Archduchess Harriet Griselda of Finster Arhon Scand-Op Boom in Romania!
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
We’re most active on Instagram where you can find us @MarvMach and we tweet as @MarvMach too, or find us on Facebook at /MarvellousMachineTheatre
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
Uplifting musical fun