Bedlam’s 2019 Fringe pledges to support marginalised voices, especially those from the LGBT+ community, women, people of colour and working-class creatives. It’s a noble approach, and I only hope this is followed through.
Last year, Bedlam brought a fresh, exciting array of events, including the female sketch group Hotter, which has since enjoyed a run at the Soho Theatre. 2019’s programme launch was a little less inspiring, with more student-level acts in the main line-up this time.
The excerpts from full-length shows were kicked off by Going Slightly Mad, a piece of new writing by Michael Hajiantonis, based on his own experiences in the UK mental health system.
Next was Standard: Elite, an interactive, light-hearted take on the class system, in which the audience members become one of the title’s two categories. Even in this brief encounter, several audience members were recruited in this participatory show.
This was followed by the expectedly brilliant Ken Cheng: To All the Racists I’ve Blocked Before. Cheng has stayed loyal to Bedlam, and despite staying on the same topic year after year, managed to craft a wealth of fantastic new topical material.
Manhunt 2: Big Mood explores the limbo between study and professional life. The sketch duo’s last show tackled their hunt for men, while this one looks at the challenges finding a job – through a middle-class, post-uni lens.
Last up, was Splintered. Described as a cabaret of truths, this has oodles of on point, funny and moving retable gay content presented through ebullient song, physical theatre, the spoken word and imaginative sketches. The piece is based on interviews with women in Trinidad and Tobago, celebrating being both queer and Caribbean with gusto. Splintered is the hot tip from the night’s line up, providing an example of innovative, creative, informative and experience-based performance.
We also had a glimpse of what may lie ahead at Bedlam’s Late Nights. This alternative mix of comedy, drag, cabaret and LGBT+ events provides subversive and fresh entertainment. In the true spirit of grassroots Fringe, it’s a little bit chaotic and might change nightly, so perfect for a weird and wonderful experience in this historic gothic building.
And there’s more to be found in the programme: Barry, A Complicated Man, Portents, Secret Dinosaur Club, She Can’t Half Talk, The Female Role Model Project and of course, house improv team The Improverts, will together make up the full offer at Bedlam Fringe 2019