O polvo amarelo grande often has its tentacles coiled round some exceptional talent, either across its nest of venues in the Courtyard or, looking appropriately like a swanky aquarium, in the newly refurbished Dome. Little treasures coming up!
Comic magician Piff the Magic Dragon takes his Chihuahua on stage for levitating levity in Jurassic Bark, and the powerfully funny Dead Cat Bounce will be turning their show Howl of the She-Leopard all the way up to 11. It’s a strong debut from Chris Stokes with An Opera Written on Napkins – he confronts geekery, misfortune and unicorns – whilst historic comic and once-Penny Dreadful Humphrey Ker is back to kick some Axis ass in a limited run of Dymock Watson: Nazi Smasher.
We’ll be shedding happy-laugh-tears and sad-cry-tears as sketch superstars Pappy’s perform what they are calling their Last Show Ever. In a similarly mournful fashion, the sketch group formerly known as Kirean and the Joes are now Kieran and Joe. They bravely struggle on with the excellent-looking Friends of Steel. Alex Horne rides again to lead his motley band of musicians and comedians in the return of The Horne Section- its brilliantly balanced blend of games, guests and musical gags put it strides ahead of other variety formats. It will sell out. You must book ahead.
Reuniting the camps of heartfelt storytelling and knob gags is Jon Bennett’s Pretending Things are a Cock, and Josie Long brings her new left-slanted comic creation Romance and Adventure to charm audiences of all ages.
In the theatre and performance section, there’s Liverpudlian coming-of-age story Bottleneck from playwright Luke Barnes, and Anglo-Finnish company Svenska Teatern bring My Elevator Days to the Courtyard; Bengt Ahlfors’ beautifully crafted script deserves to do well after its success across Europe. Contact Theatre’s rural rap story CountryBoy’s Struggle is a real treat, and Hip-Hopping in from the Windy City, Othello, the Remix has virtuoso MC-ing and a very sharp adaptation of the bard’s tale of race and jealousy – don’t judge this by its cover, as it will surprise even the most traditionalist theatregoer.
Finally, don’t miss Bane I, II & III, Joe Bone’s sublime one-man noir trilogy. Once the festival finishes, he’ll be jetting off to Brazil for its Portuguese remounting! Samba Bane – wowzer. (And you see how we started as we were going to finish? Quão inteligente!)