As Offbeat prepares to kick off, performers across the country prepare to descend on Oxford for its ever-growing fringe festival, this year boasting 60 acts over 10 days, all of which have never been seen here before.

From dance to comedy, drag acts to circus, drama to story-telling, improv to music, spoken word to children’s shows, debuts to tours, celebs to am dram, locals to international artists, Offbeat really does offer a kaleidoscope of talent, variety and complexity, right here on your doorstep.

Louise Chantal and Jeremy Spafford, the artistic directors of Oxford Playhouse and Old Fire Station said: “Offbeat brings the best of new theatre and entertainment to Oxford. It’s a chance to try something you’d not normally go to see – exciting, fresh and maybe even a little naughty!”

Plus, most tickets are £10 or less and scheduled so that you can pop from one to the other and plan a whole day and night of activities.

The big comedy nights this year boast some huge stars including David Baddiel in My Family: Not The Sitcom, Bridget Christie in What Now?, Desiree Burch, Laura Lexx in Trying, plus The Great Offbeat Comedy Night with Sara Pascoe, Ed Gamble, Phil Wang and newcomer Laura Pattinson.

The first Saturday, (June 22) is Family Day with 12 shows specially programmed to intrigue and delight younger audiences. From Blue Planet III to The Actual Reality Arcade and subjects as diverse as politics and owls, scheduled for appropriate times of the day.

The 16 home grown, local shows feature verbatim theatre, a marathon play reading, theatre pub quiz, excerpts from seven of Oxford’s playwrights and plethora of quality comedy and theatre.

Other highlights include Denim, an outrageous drag musical cabaret act, starring Amrou Al-Kadhi, who appeared as Judy Henchman in the Playhouse panto last year. Not one to miss a topical moment Blowfish Theatre bring its satirical musical Trump the Musical, filled with raucous comedy and, of course, a terrible wig.

The Foley Explosion is a rare opportunity to experience live sound effects and looping technology in sound worlds that conjure a movie in the mind.

One of the more unusual experiences this year will occur every 15 minutes in a Playhouse dressing room in an immersive, one-on-one experience with three victims of trafficking.

And just in case Oxford needs some redemptive advice Shesus & the Sistas are on hand to help with their festival-savvy interactive comedy.

Hugely popular last year, Crying Out Loud and Circa Tsuica return with their highly talented international band of acrobats and musicians offering a thrilling contemporary circus spectacular under a star-studded big top on Oxpens Meadow. Plus Offbeat will again be partnering BBC Introducing with two evenings and a day of live music from local and emerging musicians.

Jeremy Stafford concluded: “This year Offbeat is bigger and better than ever and we’re delighted to bring you these 60 fantastic shows in just eight days. A real treat on your doorstep.”

All you have to do now is pick and mix your own personal favourites, throw in a few wild cards and book your tickets.

Katherine MacAlister



Friday, June 22- Saturday, June 30

OFS, Oxford Playhouse,

Burton Taylor Studio,

Gloucester Green,

Oxpen Meadows

01865 263990

01865 305305