THERE’S something magical about a good festival, which can open the door to a world of new experiences and reawaken the sense of wonderment that has lain dormant since your pre-teens.
Then there’s the mud, the sore feet and the broken nights which bring you hurtling back to reality.
When Andy Field co-founded Forest Fringe with Deborah Pearson, he was determined to recreate that atmosphere without the blight of the physical discomforts.
“There’s something about the energy of a festival and the way it brings people together, creating a really unusual atmosphere, which I love,” he says.
“When it works, it can transform the way people relate to one another and look at the world around them, not just in that moment but in a lasting way.
“With Forest Fringe, we try to capture that unique festival spirit by giving people the chance to see a variety of very different acts over the course of a single evening.”
The micro-festival began life in an old church hall at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2007.
It made its debut last year at the Gate Theatre, in Notting Hill, where it proved such a hit that artistic director Christopher Haydon has invited it back for another two-week run.
This year’s festival is divided into distinct halves. During week one, the hit love story Romcom will be accompanied by a variety of alternative dance, music and theatre.
In the second week Dickie Beau will perform his avant-garde blend of cabaret and performance art alongside an eclectic bunch of artists who combine the outrageous with the intimate.
Romcom takes minimalist theatre to its extremes, with the entire show requiring only two actors and three iPods.
One iPod is used to project the backdrop and lighting for the comic drama, while the other two are used to feed each actor their lines and directions.
A new cast each night, all of whom come to the script blind, ensure a different show every time.
Whoever is performing in Romcom will provide the second half of that evening’s entertainment, which could mean anything from dance to ear-splitting live music.
“Romcom’s a playful contemplation on romance and the way in which we understand it,” says Field.
“It was written a decade ago, when it was quite ahead of its time, but was remade a year ago and this will be the UK premiere of the new version.
“When it was last performed here, the changing cast meant one night you’d get an uproarious comedy and the next you’d see quite a melodramatic show.”
Dickie Beau will provide acts unlike anything the Gate has had before, according to Field.
“He’s bringing together a community of artists who make quite beautiful cinematic work, more often seen in cabaret venues than theatres,” said Field.
“On one hand, you’ve the likes of Lauren Barri Holstein, a wild American performance artist, and you never know what she’s going to do. On the other, there’s Dickie Beau whose work is controlled and has a sculptural beauty.”
Forest Fringe is at the Gate Theatre, in Notting Hill, from Monday, April 22, to Saturday, May 4, at 7.30pm. Tickets, priced £12, are available at www.gatetheatre.co.uk or from the box office on 020 7229 0706.