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A Guide to the Oxford Offbeat Festival
Image Credit: Medea Electronica
A Guide to the Oxford Offbeat Festival
Image Credit: Dis-covery

A Guide to the Oxford Offbeat Festival

18 June 2017 |

Brand-new theatre, comedy, dance, spoken word and music in the picturesque surroundings of Oxford – what more could you want from a festival? In a collaboration between Oxford Playhouse and Arts at the Old Fire Station, Offbeat Festival is about to take over the city. Discover your new favourite show with our guide to this feast of cultural offerings bursting onto the Oxford stages this June and July.

Theatre
 
Offbeat Festival is a veritable hub for new theatre talent, and there are plays on all topics under the sun. First off, Orange Juice is a new play by Karim Kham that explores the dilemma facing a young British Pakistani Muslim as he finds himself caught between his worldly, up-for-it friend Ravi and his devout, traditional mother Miriam. Another standout tale of complex cultural identity is one-man show Hervé, where a busker of French African descent tells the story of his adoption by an unconventional white Belgian couple. Incorporating dance and music, this is moving and powerful theatre.


Image Credit: Hervé
 
In these turbulent times, politics are a firm fixture on the theatrical agenda, so you can blame the news for Boris – The Musical! This satirical tale of ‘Britain’s finest politiclown’ allows you to re-watch the rise, and fall, and rise again of our hapless Foreign Secretary. Featuring such smash hits as ‘I’m talking about Brexit’, ‘Posh Lads’ and ‘BeLeave!’ it’s sure to have you rolling in the aisles.


Image Credit: Boris - The Musical!
 
From the ridiculous to the sublime, don’t miss Medea Electronica – a wildly inventive retelling of the Greek tragedy set in turbulent rave-like 1980s. Expect a colourful mash-up of intense drama, cinematic soundscapes and throbbing 1980s electronica. In What if the Plane Falls Out the Sky? you can join the anxious residents of Fear Camp as they tackle their sense of impending doom, with in-flight drinks. Billed as ‘a show for anyone who has ever felt absolutely dreadful’, it promises to be a quirky, heart-warming look at an existential crisis.


Image Credit: What If the Planr Falls Out the Sky?
 
Dance
 
There are all kinds of dance acts onboard this year, from hip hop to tap-dance. You’ll be forced to revise what you think is Ladylike in this new show exploring four females’ experiences of sexuality, pleasure and consent through a mix of Afro-Latin and hip hop. One will emerge as the heroine in this ultimate hen party. Another of our highlights is Organic Entity, where three choreographers push the boundaries of what the human body can do. The show explores the human condition across time, and addresses our eternal pursuit of transcendence.


Image Credit: Organic Entity
 
Transcendental performance may well come from Aunusthan, an Indian Classical dance show from the troupe Pagrav (meaning ‘sound of feet’). The revival of this traditional dance should be a beautiful spectacle. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum there’s We Are Ian set in technicolour 1989, which promises ‘a frenzy of drugs, beats and bucket hats.’ Enough said.


Image Credit: We Are Ian
 
Music & Spoken Word
 
Eclecticism remains the order of the day in the sonic side of things at Offbeat. Wandering Wires will be taking the stage to play their blend of jazz and electronica, with musical influences including Jon Hopkins and Bonobo. While Oxford-born singer-songwriter Rosie Caldecott has been playing the Oxford underground scene for years, and will perform her poetic folk infused tunes in a free performance during Offbeat.


Image Credit: Haula
 
Make sure you check out Duotone, the alias of cellist and songwriter Barney Morse-Brown, who loops guitars, cellos, percussion and voices to create ‘ethereal soundscapes’ as a backdrop for his lyrics. Another one to watch is Haula, whose searing and soulful music has been grabbing the attention of NME and BBC6 Music lately. Expect dark pop anthems and slinky R&B.


Image Credit: Ian Wallman, Duotone
 
Not for the faint of heart, you can experience #TORYCORE, a response to the Conservative Party told through the medium of ‘music, speeches, powerpoint and rage’. This will be a cry from the heart in defiance of austerity politics; bold, raw, expressive. Or alternatively, discover multiverses with poet and student René Sharanya Verma in her solo spoken-word show Dis-covery. Poetry looking at womanhood, nationhood and naan-bread.


Image Credit: Dis-covery
  
Of course, this is just a drop in the ocean of acts and performances that Offbeat offers. Make sure you head down to Oxford this June and July for more from this extraordinary festival.
 
Offbeat Festival is running from 23 June – 2 July in Oxford. See the festival website for more information.
 

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