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Lancashire Fringe Festival

Lancashire Fringe Festival Flyer

I'm Lancashire born and bred and can often be found complaining that there's never anything to do in this town. (I know we're a city now, since 2002...it just still hasn't fully registered yet). 

When I saw by chance on Twitter that a Lancashire Fringe Festival was launching and taking place at the Ham & Jam Coffee Shop on Lancaster Road, Preston last weekend, I was keen to go in the interests of finding things to do locally, but also a bit dubious.
Advertised as a 'free comedy, performance and art event' I had my reservations. I had fears it would be 'arty farty', awkward and too far along the alternative spectrum for me to sit comfortably through. I had visions of slipping out of a side door at the earliest opportunity. How wrong I was.

If it wasn't for the lure of tapas and an alcohol licence, I may have missed out on what was genuinely one of the best nights in Preston I've had for a long while. 

Let's start with the venue. How have I never heard of Ham & Jam, an independent Coffee Shop, until last weekend? I've been searching for a stylish, good quality coffee shop for ages, all the while oblivious that there was one right under my nose. 
Modern and minimalist in design, yet relaxed and comfortable, it's a dream of a coffee shop. With an ethos that supports it's local community, artists and events, I'm so excited to have found this little gem. It's an absolute breath of fresh air for Preston.

Last weekend Ham & Jam pushed it's tables aside and made way for a two night line up of comedians, poets and performers, all of which are set to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August. Organised by Garry Cook to encourage  "people who do not go to the theatre to try it out" and "to encourage people who have never seen a fringe performance to give it a go," the Lancashire Fringe Festival was the perfect opportunity to try something new and for free!

I went along on the Saturday arriving in time to see Juliette Burton's Decision Time, a powerful 'docu-drama' that was thought provoking, funny and moving. Using her own life choices and difficulties in making them as the narrative for the performance, Juliette tackled sensitive issues such as mental health and eating disorders in a way that made me laugh and genuinely almost cry. 

If you've ever been through, for want of a better phrase, a 'down spell' Decision Time will give you the ability to laugh about it and will leave you feeling less alone. 

Next up was comedy due performance Larknado, by Neil P Shawcross and Dan Barnes. I'd never realised that a fictional character, 80s TV star Dickie Minge, would be right up my street. Who knew? 
Those that watched Larknado bore witness to a handful of comedy character sketches, a ventriloquists monkey, a teensy bit of audience participation and a marshmallow prize... what's not to like?

Neil P Shawcross
Dan Barnes

It was such a welcoming and friendly group at the festival that even the woman who ran in from the street and burst into almost a full rendition of an unknown song got a round of applause. Whether it was mainly in relief that she'd finally stopped singing remains to be seen.

The final act of the night was Mason King aka The Mentalist, mind reader and psychological illusionist who left us wondering, "how did he do that?" The audience got involved while Mason performed a series of mind boggling tricks and gave us a sneaky look at the world of subliminal messaging. Having never seen an act like The Mentalist live before, I really enjoyed it and was left thinking back the following morning, "seriously though, how did he do that??" 

Mason King Mind Reader and Psychological Illusionist
Mason King, The Mentalist

The Lancashire Fringe Festival saw people come together for two thoroughly entertaining nights. I loved it, and I'm not just saying that because my Prosecco glass was filled to the top. I have only one criticism... no 'Choose Minge' official merchandise was available to buy. 

You can keep an eye on the Lancashire Fringe Festival website here! Roll on the next one. 

Thanks so much for reading. As always if you're not following already, Not Your Nine To Five is on Twitter and Instagram. Feel free to say hi. 

Have a great week. May it be filled with new experiences and good quality coffee x x 

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