15 weird and wonderful shows to see at the Manchester Fringe Festival 2017

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The Manchester International Festival starts today featuring 18 extraordinary days of world-class cultural events.

Just in case you haven’t noticed, there’s another festival starting tomorrow which lasts the entire month of July.

The Greater Manchester Fringe Festival is an all-inclusive grass roots festival and the voice of the creative community of Greater Manchester and beyond.

It’s a platform for new performers and writers, showcasing many of acts on the national fringe circuit that are on their way to Edinburgh.

There’s serious stuff and not so serious stuff, including a running tour of Manchester, an Icelandic comedian and a play performed at Stockport train station.

There are modern adaptations of Shakespeare for the social media and gaming generation, stand-up comedians, serious drama, poetry and spoken word events, LGBT themed shows, live music, magic, and more children’s shows than ever before.

There are one or two well known names, but the performers are mostly up and coming, so why not see them now before they’re famous and tickets are cheap.

With more than 150 different productions to choose from – mostly done on a shoestring and funded by the performers – and more than 650 performances, it’s like a great big box of chocolates with something for everyone. Even people who like the marzipan.

So if you don’t like the sound of our selection from this year’s Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, there are plenty more to choose from.

The True History of The Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, the Ugliest Woman in the World

A terrible, tender play which tells the true story of a 19th Century South American Indian who was sold by her family to the owner of a travelling freak show, who billed her as “The Ugliest Woman In The World” and continued to exploit her even after her untimely death at the height of her fame. Performed in complete darkness.

Digital Fart from the Neo-Archaic Futureland (Russia)

Get a thought provoking and weirdly hilarious glimpse of the world from the other side of the wall between Russia and the West. Oleg Denisov, a philosophy graduate and delusional Russian liberal will take you through the rise of authoritarianism, the 1990s, information processing, animal sexuality, patriotism and more.

The Marriage of Kim K

What do Mozart and Kim Kardashian have in common? Well, Kim’s 2011 marriage to basketball star Kris Humphries began with a televised fairytale wedding and ended just 72 days later when a mysterious divorce was filed. This epic failure of love is just one of three collapsing marriages at the centre of this brisk, hilarious and vaultingly ambitious rewrite of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro.

Standing on the Shoulders of Ants

Pre-truth, post truth and alternative facts are scattered around like faeces in a monkey enclosure by beanpole lunatic surreal stand-up Steve Leech. Less rollercoaster, more of an awkward shuffle down a damp slide on a deserted children’s playground at dusk, singing erratically and loudly, surrounded by fag butts, empty lager cans and mating foxes. Steve has been described as the “gangly lovechild of Eddie Izzard and Stewart Lee” – but don’t let that put you off.

It’s My Funeral and I’ll Throw Glitter if I Want To

After a mental breakdown, Isobel Marmion has decided to throw her own funeral with fancy dress and lots of glitter rather than wait for her untimely and obviously impending death from one of the many illnesses she’s currently suffering from – 42 at the last count. A fast paced and bracingly intimate look at mental illness and the fear of dying alone, but in an uplifting, funny way.

If I Knew It Was Harmless I Would’ve Killed It Myself

Brave New World meets Paradise Lost in this modern retelling of the fall of man combining sci-fi, poetry, movement, and video projection.

Just Turf

A poignant, original and dark exploration of one woman’s fantasy to dance with Michael Flatley and smother him in her prize-winning creamy mashed potato.

Watching Goldfish Suffocate

Star and co-writer David Degiorgio went from a bubbly outgoing person to a paranoid, broken and hospitalised man whose life crumbled around him thanks to undiagnosed depression, heightened anxiety and psychosis. On the road to recovery, David teamed up with friend and award winning writer/director Craig Hepworth (winner of last year’s Best Drama Award for Porno Chic) to create a terrifying, brutal, honest look at the year that nearly took everything away from him.

A Teacher’s Guide to Surviving Zombie Armageddon

Armed only with Haribo and shiny stickers, The Zombie Teacher explains how to cope with zombie attack and still find time to mark the books in three different colours of pen. Written by a local primary school teacher, the events described in this fast paced, hilarious romp through a week in a primary school will be familiar to anyone working in education. “Nothing compares to the terror of Ousted. Zombies are probably easier to deal with.”

Hetty the King (And Other Women I Have Loved)

This show uses fragments from the life of Hetty King, a famous male impersonator from the music hall to tell the of Josephine, a real life person born of indeterminate sex in the late 19th Century. The performance creatively mixes Hetty’s stage career with an imagined version of Josephine’s life to explore how histories of male impersonation, gender and contemporary lesbian identity are intimately connected. This show uses it to tell personal stories and to show how we might unearth the queerer histories in our family. Expect songs, spiffing suits and some rather spicy stories.

George Zach: Ugly Babies Make Me Laugh

Greeks are famous for tragedy right? Here’s one that isn’t. George moved from Greece to study Biochemistry in Newcastle Upon Tyne and, in doing so, avoided joining the Greek army for his national service. He discovered stand-up soon after and has gone to sell out  the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Recent TV appearances include The One Show and numerous appearances on This Week, discussing the Greek financial crisis.

Why Does Everybody Want To Move To Australia?

The play focuses on two would-be emigrants to Australia: Magnus, a failed Manchester bed-shop owner and Renee, an under-appreciated yet ambitious Sheffield hair and beauty salon manager. It is just after the global financial crisis, and both want to leave for a better life down under. Every week they watch their favourite Australian television programme Paradise Down Under, with its host, the charming and handsome Bruce Bryson, telling them everything they want to hear. It’s all true of course. Why wouldn’t it be?

Jeu Jeu la Foille’s Frontal Lobotomy

This show explores Tom Waits and his relationship with women and the way spoken word and poetry is performed. Using theatrical mechanisms and her skills in clowning and rhythm, Jeu Jeu La Foille brings these characters to life, takes you into an often unsettling mythological world, and delivers you safely back home.

Super Hamlet 64: Parody DLC

Edward Day has taken over 100 videogame quotes, visual references and pieces of music and woven them into the story of Hamlet. He’s turned Ophelia into a kickass gamer geek with a penchant for samurai swords, the famous graveyard scene into philosophical zombie shootout, and the final fight with Laertes and poisoned swords into an epic boss battle with a giant mechanical beast, spewing clouds of noxious gas.

MadBeth

A contemporary re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Macbeth for the social media generation performed by an all-female cast.

For more info on this year’s Greater Manchester Fringe Festival visit www.greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk

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