On Monday 30th March I attended ‘Illuminate Festival Launch Party’ at the New Wimbledon Theatre Studio. Illuminate is the brainchild of Sarah Dullaghan and Alice Sillett, and is a 6 week fringe theatre event with over 15 different productions. The idea of the launch party was to introduce the audience to what was coming up over the next few weeks.
They certainly have a varied programme. One of the performances we were treated to was from Bosh & Babbs (made up of Jessica Boshier and Kylie Babington). This is the comedy duo that is kicking off the festival on 2nd and 3rd April. They are a comedy sketch duo who are making a name for themselves, including being shortlisted for the London Sketch Fest. Even in the snippet we were treated to they had the audience rolling around laughing. They already look to be on the verge on selling out and getting the season off to a flying start.
Other performances over the 6 weeks include ‘Safe Word’ a performance set in blackout (!) who gave very little away in their trailer but suffice to say I’m intrigued;, ‘Geometric City’, a family performance using puppetry and physical theatre and a re-envisioned and sometimes gender bending take on ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’ One show that appealed to me was ‘Unearthed,’ a comedy drama about twins that are set a series of tasks in their dads will. They are going on a mini tour with this production; kicking it off at Illuminate Festival.
During the festival there are also 2 charity nights named ‘Lightbox,’ where all proceeds are gong towards Alzheimer’s disease and Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. Performing at both Lightbox nights is an acoustic group called LEAO which is made up of Emma Ballantine and Scott Viney. We were treated to 2 of their songs last night and Emma has an enchanting voice suited perfectly to the songs they were playing. I would highly recommend trying to catch these guys if you are into acoustic music or folk with a modern feel.
In Illuminate’s own words their aim is ‘to encompass the widest variety of genres, inviting audiences to explore beyond their realms of comfort…. (presenting) new writing, cabaret, Greek mythology, puppetry, dance and folk music’ and this new festival appears to do just that. If you are a fan of the Edinburgh Festival, love the variety that you inevitably get with it and want to get into the festival vibe early then I would encourage you to go along. It is also encouraging that a massive company such as ATG is running this festival and hopefully helping to shine the spotlight on London Fringe theatre.
Running from the 2nd April – 9th May at New Wimbledon Studios (Times vary).
Tickets are £10 (concessions £8) for all performances with a see it again offer for £5 which means you can attend another event for £5.