Fringe picks for 2013

Daisy Tonge in The Fix at the Union Theatre. Photo: Roy Tan
Honour Bayes is a freelance arts journalist who has written extensively for The Stage and had work published in the Guardian, Independent, Time Out, Exeunt Magazine and The Church Times. She is currently Associate Editor on Chinese arts magazine ArtZip and has worked as web editor for the Royal College of Art, managing its arts and design coverage.
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Looking forward into 2013 I thought I would focus on some of the ‘fringier’ fringe venues I think deserve a New Year’s mention.

Where better to start than at The Union Theatre which won The Stage’s Fringe Theatre of the year Award. While well known for their superb musical record I hope 2013 will be the year when their line in disputed Shakespearean works – this year kicking off with Fair Em – gets as much notice as their vault-storming hits.

Going further afield I think that The Yard in Hackney Wick is one of the most exciting fringe theatres for 2013. Submissions are still open for its first season, The Generation Game , and they’re not beholden to a planning structure of years, or even months, ahead so it’s impossible to predict what’s going to really shine. But building on their Dan Crawford Innovation Award and an adventurous 2012 programme I can safely predict artistic director Jay Miller’s theatre will be well worth jumping on the Overground for. In fact I beseech you to do so.

Another venue that’s worth digging out – this one’s much more central but easy to miss – is Camden People’s Theatre . The newly refurbished café should hopefully bring more people through the door of this constantly impressive venue. Utilising all of co-artistic director Brian Logan’s savvy as a comedy critic, they will be kicking off 2013 will be Beyond The Joke ‘A festival of work exploring the point where stand up and theatre collide’ opening next week.

With a strong focus on minorities and diversity, Ovalhouse Theatre’s programming has been reinvigorated by co-directors Rebecca Atkinson Lord and Rachel Briscoe. This exciting rise in form promises only to increase in 2013 as they look to celebrate their 50th anniversary in a summer season called Counterculture 50. Meanwhile, the Tristan Bates Theatre – which I raised concerns about last year – is starting to forge an identity for itself. Its inaugural season for 2013, FIRST: A Season of Solo Performances , looks to give a curatorial framework to the extensive variety of their programming and promises some interesting pieces.

Finally for a show tip - and this is perhaps more 'Off-West End' than fringe - Cora Bissett’s new musical Glasgow Girls , coming to Theatre Royal Stratford East in February looks superb.


Bissett directed the Olivier Award winning Roadkill – a devastating look at sex trafficking that emotionally destroyed audiences - so her move into this genre is fascinating. Based on the true story of friends who fought to keep one of their own from deportation this gritty but feel good musical looks to give London Road a run for its money.

Bring it, and 2013, on.