Bedfringe 2023: Over 140 events in Bedford over 11 days


This month, the Quarry Theatre will host the 16th International Bedford Festival Fringe, bringing over 140 events – old and new – to the town.

From Thursday 20 until Sunday 30 July a carefully selected programme of comedy, theatre, live music, film, dance and physical theatre, spoken word and poetry will be performed across three venues, with Bedfringe director, James Pharoah MBE, hoping there will be something in the programme for everyone.

One of the highlights of this year’s festival include the Director’s Choice show, Priorité á Gauche: The Secret Gig, a return of the first professional act that James Pharaoh programmed into Bedford back in 2002.

Theatre of Widdershins returns with their super storytelling shows (all seven of them), while rising comedy royalty, Ivo Graham is back once again.  Thanks to his many TV appearances – including a recent appearance on Taskmaster – his Edinburgh preview show at Bedfringe is almost sold out, so be quick.

Binge the Fringe (without spending a penny)

The music programme this year is the largest to date with artists performing in the garden, studio and bar. 

Lots of these events are free so you can binge the fringe without spending a penny.  Some highlights are the incredible Beatboxer- BeatFox, Fe Salomon and the Blender Weekender on 29 – 30 July featuring Lite Sleeper, The Tarrows and a BedFolk Sunday curated by Simon Sunsinger.

Director’s Top Five

As has become a Bedfringe Clanger tradition, we have asked James for his Director’s Top Five and here they are:

1. Priorité á Gauche – Saturday 29 July @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £12

In a spectacular coup for Bedfringe, Priorité à Gauche – France’s premier acoustic pop/rap/rock sensation – make a one-off special appearance here in Bedford.

The hugely popular Perrier award-winning spoof French musical duo bring you sixty magnifique minutes crammed with all the hits that made them into the stars they think they are today.

2. Chrissie & The Skiddle Witch: A Climate Change Musical – Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 July @ 1pm
Tickets: £10/£8

Thirteen-year-old Chrissie is a budding climate change campaigner, but her family just don’t get it! When a huge storm hits her seaside town of Skiddle, Chrissie reluctantly gets roped into helping a strange old lady. To Chrissie’s surprise, she finds an unlikely ally with a big secret.

Chrissie and the Skiddle Witch is a musical storytelling show about climate change for older children (ages 8+), teens and their families. Grounded in climate science, it is a warm and funny story about a family trying to adapt to a changing world and connect across generational divides.

Join duo Geologise Theatre for their unique blend of storytelling, science and songs, with an original script by Roberta Wilkinson and live onstage accompaniment and score by Matthew Kemp.

3. Jessica Aszkenasy & Katie Norris: Hooters!! – Saturday, 29 July @ 5pm

A smoking hot split bill of stand-up from Jessica Aszkenasy and Katie Norris. 

After a sold-out run at London’s VAULT festival, Jessica is making a name for herself as one of the most exciting up-and-comers on the London comedy circuit. 

Over the past four and a half years she’s become a regular at top comedy clubs around the UK. Zero accolades to her name (!!), 100% originality is her game.

Katie is a stand-up comedian, actress, singer and podcaster, best known for her work as one-half of the critically-acclaimed double act Norris & Parker and a regular voice on The Now Show and Newsjack (BBC Radio 4). Winner of the Musical Comedy Awards 2023.

4. A Caravan Named Desire – Saturday 29 July @ 2pm and 6pm
Tickets: £10

“I am many things. I’m an entrepreneur and manager of a little online shop. I’m a model and independent film star. I’m an entertainer. But if you want to know more, come knock on my door.”

Working from a caravan has its ups and downs. Clients come and go. Ask them no questions and they’ll tell you no lies, just take the money at the door. But something’s different about this new client.

Discreet, professional, clean and tested. For a good time, come to the caravan. Your desire for hire.

A Caravan Named Desire is a one-hour show exploring desire and sex work in the UK through interactive performances. A Caravan Named Desire is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

5. Crimson Sails – Thursday 20 July 2023

A girl falls so deeply into fantasy and romance, she is in danger of losing touch with the real world. How, then, to bring her back before it is too late? This will require detailed planning…

Back to basics: After a few years of experiment, Mark returns to Bedfringe with some straightforward storytelling, the most famous of all Russian folktales, but with a new ending.

Richard Mann and his guitar will add colour and pauses to the narrative.

Together Mark and Richard provide the words and music

You provide the pictures.

Family-friendly, but not for the youngest children.

Since 2007 Bedfringe has seen over 3,800 acts pass through its doors establishing it on the world fringe map. In 2013 the festival ran for three weeks hosting 156 events, 495 performers in 18 venues and sold in excess of 5,000 tickets. It was the fourth-largest Fringe Festival in the UK.

Over the past four years, Bedfringe has helped to raise over £4,000 for charity and this year’s charity partner is the Stroke Association.

The festival has been responsible for supporting many up-and-coming acts including Lee Ridley (AKA Lost Voice Guy), Pappys (BBC sketch show), Howard Read (CBBC’s “Little Howard’s Big Question“), Simon Brodkin (AKA ‘Lee Nelson’), Adam Brown (Ori in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit”), Patrick Monahan (winner of ITV 2011 “Show Me The Funny”), The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre Company (Edinburgh Fringe favourites), Simon Munnery, Jack Whitehall, Jan Ravens, Barry & Stuart (BBC1’s “The Magicians”) and world record breaker Sir Tim FitzHigham (Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter”), Josh Widdicombe, The Noise Next Door, Pete Firman, Joel Dommett and Vikki Stone.

You can browse the full programme of all 140+ events at the Bedfringe website here.