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What to See at Oxford’s Offbeat Festival

18 June 2018 | Emily May

A collaboration between Oxford Playhouse and Arts at the Old Fire Station, Offbeat festival returns between 22 – 30 June 2018 for another edition of brand new theatre, comedy and dance. The whole point is to try something you wouldn’t normally get to see, so have a browse through our handy round up, and pick a performance that may be slightly out of your comfort zone…

Everyone loves a laugh, and there’s plenty of comedy on offer at this year’s Offbeat Festival. Returning after the success of their production Boris the Musical at last year’s Offbeat, Blowfish present Trump the Musical on 28 June, where they travel in time to 2020 to question the longevity of Trump’s premiership, if Kim Jong Un will ever stop messing with missiles, and one lucky actor sports one truly awful wig. Whilst Trump the Musical has earnt itself a 15+ rating for its particular brand of satire, you can also get your 7-year-olds into politics with How Does This Politics Thing Work Then, a matinee performance on 23 June, which aims to rebuke the stereotype that politics is boring, complicated and just for adults.

Image Credit: Off Beat via Facebook
 
But not all the jokes are serious satire. Fans of Ru Paul should head to Denim – World Tour on 22 June, to meet a group of drag queens telling different stories and identities, including Glamrou – who wants to prove you can be queer and Muslim. Another highlight is David Baddiel: My Family, Not the Sitcom, a show about memory, aging, dysfunctional relationships (and Baddiel’s sex mad mother!), which has just completed a sold out run in London and has been Olivier nominated. Also don’t miss the festival’s premiere comedy event The Great Big Offbeat Comedy Night on 28 June, which is hosted by Mock the Week’s Ed Gamble, and features Sara Pascoe (Have I Got News for You) and TV regular Phil Wang.  

Image Credit: Denim. via Facebook
 
When you’re done with chuckling and are ready for some “straight-faced” theatre, try out Women's Writes: A Marathon Of Plays Written By Women on 30 June. Hosted by Oxfordshire Theatre Makers, the day long readings of plays by local and international female writers is aptly programmed in conjunction with the 2018 Centenary of Women’s Suffrage. Antigone on 26 June is another play promoting female empowerment, as Mandala Theatre take on Roy William’s contemporary version of the Greek Tragedy that tells the story of one woman who makes a stand against a world of pervading, omnipresent surveillance (surprisingly apt considering the play was originally written around 441BC). As well as many other inspiring plays to be seen, theatre buffs should also head to the Theatre Pub Quiz on 29 June, to test their knowledge on modern plays, theatre jargon, famous people, and an ambiguous sports round…

Image Credit: Mandala Theatre Company via Facebook
 
Musically speaking, The Glass Aisle (29 June) is a collaboration between acclaimed singer songwriter Brian Briggs and poet Paul Henry, which showcases new and old material from both artists, as well as their eponymous new musical collaboration, which is inspired by the county of Monmouthshire, Brecon Canal (close to Henry’s home) and its associations with radio pioneer Marconi and an old union workhouse.

Image Credit: The Glass Aisle via Facebook

For some poetry in motion, check out the selection of dance Offbeat has programmed. There’s a diverse programme to chose from, including Thomas Page Dance’s Normative? (27 June) which explores the recent traumatic events of Chechnya, Russia, the way societies create conformity, and questions “is being normal really worth it?” There’s also Facet (29 June), a triple bill of Kathak dance (a South Indian style made popular in the UK by celebrated choreographer Akram Khan) by Drishti Dance, and a playful dance duet Lina (28 June) by Forged Line Dance Company which is inspired by the lives of sibling astronomers William and Caroline Herschel. 

Image Credit: Nathan Ishtar


There’s much more to discover at Oxford’s Offbeat Festival, and you can find the full programme here. Offbeat runs from 22 – 30 June 2018.
 
 
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