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Best of Reading Fringe

No need to schlep to Edinburgh for a fab Fringe, we've got one right on our doorstep. Breathe in the cool culture, here's Muddy's pick of programme.

Need a cool culture fix? Look no further than Reading Fringe Festival and its curated collection of talent bringing their alternative acts to Berks. With more than 100 shows, over 6 days, there’s an eclectic mix of local performers, Edinburgh-bound artists and international acts daring you to laugh, cry and drop your jaw.

Whether you’re looking to for something to make your kids laugh, dance to your own beat at silent disco, have designs on becoming the Berkshire Banksy or you just want to drag your bottom off your sofa, there is is something for everyone at Reading Fringe. Just to prove the point, here are Muddy’s hot highlights and it all kicks off at The Oracle Riverside with BGT’s Magic Mandy on Fri 19 Jul…


COMEDY: Eddie Summers – School Of Burglary, Penta Hotel Reading, Sat 20 Jul

Eddie Summer School of Burglary comedian in balaclava pnk dolls house

We’ve had the School of Rock, School of Life and now the School of Burglary. Less a curriculum of crime and more a demo on the absurdity of burglary. Comedian Eddie Summers sells out every year and as the title suggests, he’ll lead you through the physical demands of cutting alarm systems, dealing with dangerous dogs and blowing a bank safe… Prop/stand-up/absurdist burglary as taught by an idiot! It’s a supercharged evening of wild banter and daft comedy that spews out onto the stage. Slightly embarrassing snorty laughter guaranteed. Tickets £9.


FAMILY FUN: Seska Quack Quack Bang, Penta Hotel Reading, Sat 20 July

Seska comedy magician Quack Quack Bang hat rubber ducks lit bomb
When SESKA comes to town kids laugh out loud, Dads f*rt out loud and mums faint at his feet! He’s that good. Quack Quack Boom contains magic, mayhem and happiness! Jonathan Ross’s kids love him, he’s a regular at Camp Bestival, his shows sell out fast and the whole family will end up bent double and in pain from laughing so hard. He’s back for another year at Reading Fringe Festival, begins at 11am and lasts for 60mins. Tickets £8/ £25 for a family ticket (2 adults & 2 kids).


ART: KJ263 Broad Street Mural, Broad Street Mall Reading, Sat 20 – Sun 21 Jul

Düsseldorf’s answer to Banksy, the internationally renowned urban artist KJ263 (real name Konstantin) is coming to Reading to jessie up the Broad Street Mall. Konstantin’s signature style is defined by his characters’ flexi noses and bad behaviour. If you have a budding urban artist or you love the art form, don’t miss this unique opportunity to see this quality street artist create a masterpiece at the Mall. 


THEATRE: Clown Sex, After Dark, Sat 20 Jul

Clown Sex play illustration of woman's body wit clown face

Not gonna lie, the title caught my eye and then I Googled ‘clown sex’. Eek! The fear is real. What was going to pop up? And would my kids dive into a weird and wildly inappropriate trawl through my search history? This one-woman play, performed by Natasha Sutton Williams, is designed to shock. But if you’re open to the squelchy, awkward and sometimes glorious sides of sex, then you’ll love these three characters contending with bad sex, sad sex and, er, Clown Sex.


MUSIC: A Change Is Gonna Come, Reading Minster, Mon 22 Jul

A greatest hits of political anthems performed by four of the most gifted soul, jazz and rap artists. A Change Is Gonna Come is performed by talented queens: the soulful Carleen Anderson, jazz virtuosos Nikki Yeoh and Camilla George and rising UK rapper Lady Sanity. Together, they’ll perform unique interpretations of iconic songs from Nina Simone, Gil Scott-Heron, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke and more. They’re also performing at WOMAD, but you can see them here first. Powerful stuff.



COMEDY: A Very Crayola Fringe Show, After Dark Reading, Thu 25 Jul

Green Drag artist queen of colour A very Crayola Fringe Show

I’m loving the sound of A Very Crayola Fringe Show on 25 Jul in which the Queen of Crayola will be bringing her campy, cartoonish, lady clown LOLs to the occasion. It will be camp, there will be lip synching and all that drag. She’s Reading Uni alumni, so it’s a home coming gig for this green goddess. Guaranteed to be a fab-u-lous night out.


ART: Old Skool Art Battle, After Dark, Thu 25 Jul

Beat Box Grafitti art and Old Skool Art Battle

You got beef, then it’s time to battle. Want to make fresh prints but think it’s tricky? Check yo’ self! B-boys and girls prepare to slay at  this Old Skool Art Battle. Bring a creative state of mind and go head to head at this paint throw down against the clock, judged by crafty Miss Crayola. Believe the hype! Entry to this event is FREE for A Very Crayola Fringe Show ticket holders – otherwise it’s £4.


ART: HARTMANNMUELLER: In Danger, MERL Reading, Thu 25 JulClay on man's head with horn Hartmann Muller Reading Fringe FestIval

The last time we were transfixed by a man fondling a lump of clay, Patrick Swayze was behind the potter’s wheel and, er, Demi Moore. Anyhoo, we’re upping the cultural ante with HARTMANNMUELLER (Dutch duo Simon Hartmann and Daniel Ernesto Müller) as they play with the perception of time in elaborate pictures. Visitors experience unforeseen metamorphoses of the bodies as monstrous and disfigured moments encrust the human sculpture emerging from the artist duo’s laboratory. Weird but strangely compelling.


FAMILY FUN: Me & My Shadow, Vue Reading, Fri 26 Jul

Drew Colby Shadowography Me and my Shadow Readng Fringe Festivcal

Drew Colby’s show Me & My Shadow went down a storm last year – and he’s back by popular demand. My shadow puppetry is poor at best – rabbit, butterfly, dino/wolf mash up (or just a mangled hand), but Drew creates a menagerie of animals with two hands and they’ll blow your mind. Shadow crabs creep from the sea, a shadow monkey does a hula-hoop dance and a tiny shadow man goes riding on a great, big shadow elephant. Who doesn’t want to see that?  Tickets £10/£8/ £25 family (ages 4+).


Reading Fringe Festival runs from Fri 19 – Sun 28 Jul. For the full programme of events click here.


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