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!
Location: Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Dates: Aug 20-24th
Ticket Link: https://www.camdenfringe.com/show.php?acts_id=2666
Hello Chesca! Tell us about Oddball?
Oddball is a one-woman show which invites audiences into the brain of a person with an eating disorder, as she prepares for a date. When I looked at the media currently existing about eating disorders, it always made me cringe: white girl, very thin, very tragic, victim of celebrity culture, stops eating, crisis, eats a sandwich, SHE RECOVERS and LEARNS TO LOVES HERSELF. I was like… this is why people think eating disorders are just people wanting to be thin. Oddball is supposed to give you an insight into the messier elements of eating disorders and NHS inpatient wards to try to give a more realistic understanding of eating disorder “logic” looks like.
How did you come up with the name of your show that your taking to the Camden fringe?
At the start of the show, the main character, Oddball, tries to pitch herself to the audience as a (fairly outdated) manic pixie dream girl, rom-com leading lady. She’s quirky, fun, spontaneous, troubled… a bit of an “oddball”. It’s also leaning into the idea that for a long time, people understood disorders like EDNOS (Eating disorder not specified) as just being “a bit odd with food”.
The show plays a lot with how genre and cinematic stereotypes really influence the way we cast ourselves in our own “narratives” – like a rom-com – and explores the more toxic elements of that. I went through so many titles. “Social Eating”. “Close Up” (like the camera lens). “UNTITLED PIECE OF CRAP” was the title on the working script for a bit… it’s been a journey.
Tell us a little bit about your style of show?
Think Fleabag meets Crazy Ex Girlfriend, but queer. I’m a musical theatre nerd, and I tried to make the musical comedy elements of the reflect the way I experience the world. Something too sad? Not if I see it through the lens of the ‘Chicago’ musical theme. There are an obscene amount of sound design cues (thank you to Sound Designer Jordan Clarke for that), which are combined with mime to make a very surreal world at times. There’s rapping, singing, multi-rolling madness, and in one section, some fairly intense exercise… why did I do that to myself. I’m so tired.
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at the fringe?
Madame Chandelier’s Rough Guide to the Opera will be good. I saw Dela (the writer-performer) at the Southwark Playhouse the first night I previewed Oddball, and she blew me away with her comic timing and stage presence.
I’ve been flicking through the program, and the show “The Last King of Porn” sounds like something I’d enjoy. The title made me chuckle. WHO IS THE KING OF PORN. I’m also in another show called Villain Interrupted (by Dolls in Amber Productions) which is about Supervillains in prison therapy so… obviously excited to see that on its feet.
Have you done the Camden Fringe before?
I’ve never done the Camden fringe before because I’m always up in Edinburgh with Dragprov or the Oxford Imps, but this is my fallow year (my bank is very grateful), so… here’s to something new!
Tell us how you went about doing the writing process?
I submitted a 20 minute scratch version called “Social Eating” which was just story telling, sound design, and a lot of silly mime, to the Southwark Playhouse, and managed to get a slot at their new writing night. Someone asked to see “the full version” in a fairly exciting email, and I was like “ah… yes…. The….full version… which definitely exists….” And holed myself away for two weeks over Christmas to write it. It was intense.
According to Instagram, it looks like you have had some very unusual tactics such as balancing on your head to remember lines?
Yes. My director, Micha Mirto, is a sadist. A genius. But mainly sadist. There is a section where I list – in a half rappy-spoken-wordy thing – all the side effects of anorexia nervosa. There are lots. And we choreographed movement to it. And she suggested that if I could reel off the lines standing on my head, then I knew it well enough. I took her seriously, and… now I can’t back down.
What have been some of the most unique and different shows you have seen this year and why?
Berberian Sound Studio at the Donmar Warehouse. I incorporate sound design into literally everything I do, and this show was a masterclass in foley art. Think “The Woman In Black”, except with modern technology. It shows you how to terrify an audience, shows you the mechanism behind it, and you are terrified anyway. Gorgeous work.
What advice would you give to others who want to perform at Camden Fringe next year?
Go see your venues before you accept, and start promo early. I know folks who have accepted a venue and then been like “oh wait, IT’S IN THE ROUND?!” Yes. Yes Brenda. Do your research.
What is the best thing about performing at the Camden fringe?
It allows you to try material out on a completely different audience. Most of the folks that come are thespys in the area, so it’s very different to the Edinburgh crowd, and represents a wonderfully diverse range of new, smiling faces to perform for.
What are your three favourite things about Camden?
The vegan junkfood. The steam punk aesthetic. The fact that it’s okay for me to be perpetually 16 years old.
Who would be your ultimate dream audience member?
Someone who comes ready to enjoy the material unselfconsciously. That person who barks out a laugh at an inappropriate moment: You are my spirit animal. Be my friend. And come to every show please.
The iconic image of the Camden Fringe is the Pigeon – if you could call this year’s pigeon a name to represent its style what would it be and why?
Clarence. It feels dignified