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October 2015


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For the Leo’s of Ventnor it is your month and Ventnor is yours. Today your horoscope reminds you that you are never trapped in this town full of culture.

Fancy dress is optional but today go as you and meet new friends or lovers. If you’re feeling conflicted on what to see be decisive and be honest in what you want. Always remember that you know yourself and your outgoing nature will bring people to you.


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Some may be aware that we have a new employee manning the box office desk this year. If you’ve been keeping well-informed you’ll have seen him on our Instagram and Facebook. Oh yes, it’s Dave the Pelican.

Dave the Pelican came to us from… we assume North America due to his species origin, although his accent is open to interpretation. Dave could be from anywhere, after all the eight surviving Pelican species have a sporadic global distribution, generally latitudinal from the tropics to temperate zones.

He is said to have come to us to pursue his passion for marine wildlife, but has somehow found himself working as our office clerk. His qualifications in water wildlife are up for speculation as whatever aquatic creatures he has chosen to research have subsequently disappeared after his examination. ‘Marine biologist’ may be off the cards for this light feathered water bird.

Caution: Dave has been known to refuse the pound sterling and request fish. Please don’t start bringing fish into Ventnor Exchange. Dave is on a diet. 

The VFringe Story

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Being a teen in the noughties on the Isle of Wight was great in the summer with the revival of the Isle of Wight Festival and creation of Bestival but between those two weekends there was little else to do. With the closure of Ryde Theatre visiting bands became few and restless young minds turned their attentions to events off of the Island.

The prospect of leaving home and going away to university was so much more exciting because this astonishingly beautiful Island had little to offer the young cultural succubi.

In order to see exciting bands, plays and art exhibitions young people had to take a boat journey away from the Island to Southampton, Portsmouth and then onto London.

For three young people back in 2009 (Jack Whitewood, Mhairi Macaulay and Thea Welsford) the idea that they might not return to their beloved hometown became very real. Returning home after university had seemingly no benefit to their careers or cultural awakening.

“We wanted a reason to come back.” – Mhairi Macaulay.

These three sixth form students began meeting in pubs and discussing how they could fill this cultural void. The initial planning on beer mats and paper napkins in the Crab & Lobster Tap soon found help from a team of mentors (Simon Perry, Sally Perry, Jim Willis, Liz Cooke, Malcolm Lloyd and Kathy Whitewood) sharing their own event planning experiences with our three 18-year-old students.

“It was just the initial year really, we tried to share what knowledge we had to do with events and since then the Ventnor Fringe has become bigger and better every year. A lot of us still pitch in with where we can and think they’ve done a brilliant job of bringing people down to the Island every year.” – Jim Willis.

An entire year of planning culminated with the first ever Ventnor Fringe in the August of 2010. This first year premiered with names such as The String Theatre, Michael Champion, award winning film director Vincent Moon and the now critically acclaimed folk singer/actor Johnny Flynn.

Three and a half days has steadily become six; jam packed with comedy, spoken word, art, film and music across Ventnor town. 2016 is set to be the best yet, with the addition of the Ventnor International Festival.

Not only has the festival grown in size but the core VFringe team has been increasing in numbers every year. The first Ventnor Fringe attracted friend and budding event organiser/designer Joe Keele-Toms and Arts Management undergrad, Becky Boucherat. These two names have reappeared each year and remain crucial to the development of the festival. Then in 2013 we had the edition of local socialite and vinyl collector, Billy May who has taken on many roles across the festival.

“I met Thea when I was doing my foundation year at University in London. She told me about this cool little festival she and her friends were organizing and I just tagged along and chipped in where I could. I really wanted to get involved with festival organization and I fell in love with the Ventnor Fringe ethos, the town and its people.” – Becky Boucherat.

In November 2014 the Ventnor Fringe found a year-round home, The Ventnor Exchange. Described as an “accident” by Festival Director, Jack Whitewood, The Exchange, as it’s known, has become a creative hub for people across the Island.

“We needed a box office for Ventnor Fringe and people kept telling us that the old post office was available to rent. After some time of umming and ahhing, we decided to go for it. When we got inside we realised that the space was far too big to keep as a box office which is why we now have a café/ bar/ record store/ theatre/ everything else space.” – Jack Whitewood.  

In truth, the Ventnor Exchange actually first opened its doors during the 2014 Ventnor Fringe as a pop-up box office. At this point it still resembled an old post office with various people walking in asking what stamps were recommended for next day delivery.  

Over 12 months the 80s postal husk transformed into a chic London-esque record store, bar and café that stocked over 40 different craft beers from across the world.

Ventnor Exchange has showcased a number of spectacular performances since their opening with names such as the Flabbergast Theatre, Maria Ferguson, Luke Wright, Ahir Shar, Grainne Maguire, Joe Bone, Chordorize, Bonchurch Theatre Company and Reading Between the Lines.

Ventnor Exchange has been granted Arts Council funding which means that they’ve been able to create some of their own theatre productions over the last year. At Christmas they had the popular premier of Good Night Little Bear, and most recently their puppet show, Wireless. Ventnor Exchange has started running children’s workshops. So far they have had Songwriting with Paul Armfield, Night Photography with Lucy Boynton, Watercolours and Abstract painting with Mhairi Macaulay and Spoken Word with Maria Ferguson.

“I didn’t move down to the Island until I was 10. As a child growing up in London, my mum used to take me and my sister to art workshops at Hampstead School of Art and we loved them. We did still life, watercolour and pottery. I like to think that these workshops fuelled my creativity as a child and played a part into my career path as an adult. I wanted to give kids in this community the same experience.” – Mhairi Macaulay.

Lastly, but by no means least, the record store: the revival of vinyl records has been keenly observed by the VFringe crew who felt that it needed to be a part of their space, which is why Ventnor Exchange sells new and old releases of vinyl records.

“I started record collecting after a night when I got very drunk in Southampton, I must have been about 20. I walked into a charity shop and found a copy of Spanish Flea for 50p and I really wanted it, so that’s when I started collecting. As for Ventnor Fringe, I worked with Jack at The Bonchurch Inn, he told me how much fun event organisation was. Then in 2013, I finally realised what a good liar he was.” – Billy May.

The vinyl revival in Ventnor has meant that Record Store Day came back with a vengeance in 2015. This resurgence had people queuing outside Ventnor Exchange from 6am to get their favourite records.

I think you’re about up to date with what’s going on. So here we go again…




Dracula: Pt 1

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So, I, like many others read Dracula at school (I lie, I read it at University), and even those that didn’t read the story, know the narrative to some extent. But to clear up any blurred lines, here is a quick recap. 

Right, Dracula is the classic novel by Bram Stoker, the chronicle is made up of diary entries by Johnathan and Mina Harker with spouts of prose. 

    The tale begins with a journal entry by Johnathan on his travels to Transylvania; where he is to complete a real-estate transaction with a Count by the name of Dracula, ergo; Count Dracula. 

Do we see where the story is going so far? 

    When our British solicitor arrives in Transylvania the locals in a near by town warn Johnathan that the Count is an ungodly and dangerous man. But, of course our hero doesn’t pay any mind to the ramblings of the poor. You can guess as much that Dracula is not all that he seems and things get very weird. 

    That’s My Cue Productions have come to tell this very dark tale, and I for one am very excited. Okay, it might not sound like the warm and fuzzy stories we’re used to in modern vampirism tales but this is THE ultimate dark literature classic. A truly captivating story. 

    If you’re a fan of any supernatural stories or god forbid, Twilight. And, if you are a fan of Twilight I have a message for you: Cut it out right now. Either way, all these stories lead back to Stoker’s definitive tale.

    There have been many less adequate representations of Dracula over the years, but don’t worry this will not, I repeat, will not, be a recount of Francis Ford Coppola’s film starring Keanu Reeves and Wynonna Ryder. 

Will this be the resurrection of the demon himself? Find out tonight.     

Catch Dracula Pt 1: Johnathan Harker’s Journal @ 8pm in The Old Church tonight! 

Grab-a-Poet with Toby Thompson

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Can you introduce yourself and tell us what you’re doing at Fringe this year?

My name’s Toby Thompson and I am performing three times a day for half an hour at a time in this caravan, to audiences of up to 5.

So I’m doing that Tuesday to Sunday, and then on Sunday evening I’m doing a show with Dizraeli at the secret venue, who’s a good friend of mine and an inspiration really.

What are you doing with Dizreali?

I think we’ve got just an hour long show together so I imagine I’ll do half an hour and he’ll do half an hour.

How long have you been performing for?

About seven years now I think, doing this kind of thing. So I’m 22 now and I started when I was about 15. Yeah so quite a long time.

Have you performed at Fringe before?

Yeah this is my third time and so it’s a home from home almost now. I’ve been here four times actually, I did another event that wasn’t during the summer, I couldn’t come last year because I was at Edinburgh Fringe doing a show.

What have you been working on between each Fringe?
Various things. So I’m always just kind of writing my own poems and then last autumn I did a show, I was commissioned to write one for the Royal & Derngate in Northampton which was performed on the centenary of a particular battle during the First World War which was in Northampton. Northampton had su ered, by far, the greatest losses in this particularly tragic battle. So it was an hours’ worth of poetry and we had a little orchestra and that was probably the biggest piece of work, the biggest undertaking that I’ve taken on as far as writing and performing goes. There were lots of other festivals over the summer, I went to Zimbabwe and did a few gigs for the International festival out there, and commissions for people. 

That’s amazing! Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from, I don’t know, it’s a hard question. I think just from feelings, I feel. Music plays a massive part in it, I always write to music so I doubt any of the poems that I’ve got at the moment would exist if it weren’t for the songs I was listening to when I wrote them. So music is de nitely completely vital to, well my whole life, but de nitely to the writing process. And then just the kind of feelings and thoughts that I have day- to-day, the conversations that I have with people. This feels like a really nice way of letting that out into the world and kind of delving into it further, it feels like it’s partly to do with documenting things that I have learnt and it’s partly learning more through the process of writing.

Can you improvise a short poem about Ventnor quickly? It doesn’t have to be long! Haha! I’m not sure if I can you know, I take months to write my poems. Every one takes ve or six weeks. Um…

“Ventnor is a beautiful place to be,

I love my walk to work

Along past the glittering blue sea,

To the caravan,

It’s nice to be me.”

Catch Toby Thompson at the Parkside venue Friday and Saturday, 2, 2:30 & 6pm. 

by Hollie Hayes

Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear.

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Admittedly I am not what you call an avid theatre goer. For those theatre buffs that are quick to scruinise I say nay and be silent!

Only having a brief knowledge of Richard II’s persecution, I was wholeheartedly consumed by this play. Scena Mundi, BRAVO! The first half starts with some quite tense and somewhat aggressive scenes showing the dissolution of King Richard II’s crown. Though despair is a prominent tone for King Richard toward the end of the first half something even more terrible but upholding unravels in the second half.

I think the coronation of this show is definitely part two.

The mutiny unravelling in the beginning comes to light as Henry Bolingbroke and the King’s former followers plot against the throne and take his crown. By the end of part one I was drunk with worry for what were to happen, though I knew the outcome was inevitably death (come on, it is Shakespeare).

But who would die?  The second half shares some of the wittier remarks we have grown to love from Shakespeare. Despite the content of it being somewhat more shocking, the build of relationship within the communion and King Richard’s soliloquy is breath affirming.

This show will immerse you as a loyal or perhaps more to the point un-loyal subject to King Richard II’s court.

“God save the king” and no loyal subject to call amen.

I must admit I had to bite my tongue otherwise I was would most certainly have been alongside Richard II in his fall from grace. 

I’m Just Here For The Boos

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I had a big old row with the girlfriend last night I’m afraid to inform. Plates were flying, doors were slammed, it was awful, it really was. Luckily in the end she finally admitted we’ve got a poltergeist.

The Royal National Hospital was located in the same place as our Botanical Gardens are situated now and was opened in 1867 to deal with tuberculosis and other chest diseases. The climate of the area was an important factor in its choice of location and the hospital continued its vital work rehabilitating patients for over a century, until advances in medicine and the decline in these diseases resulted in its closure and demolition in 1969. ~ INSERT MOON LANDING CONSPIRACY HERE~

There are several accounts of demolition men and contractors of the old building being left as trembling husks after being “badly affected” by a secret voyeur they could sense but never see.

The terrifying accounts of evil spirits terrorising the grounds became so extreme that an official report was written up. There were numerous pleads for either the Anglican or Roman Catholic Church to investigate the area and to expel any undesirables but the exorcism was supposedly never performed. Several further accounts came to light before the demolition was completed in July 1969.

If you happen to be in the area be extra cautious not to rile up any of our incarcerated native souls, we really can’t be held accountable for their actions.

Huh? A sceptic are you? Well it just so happens that this ruggedly attractive, devilishly charming writer just happened to see one only the other day.

It was just outside the Botanical Gardens en route to St Lawrence when I came across a dead baby ghost. Actually on reflection that very well could just have been the handkerchief I dropped, I guess we’ll never know. In the words of TV hunk and cult idol David Duchovny, THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE.

Free Fringe- Tuesday 11th August 2015

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The Ventnor Fringe officially starts today, which means it’s time to head on over to the Woodland Bar for the festival launch and welcome talk at 6pm this evening! There are a host of free events tonight at the Woodland Bar and The Observatory, as well as buskers located around the town during the day.

Following on from the welcome talk is local singer-songwriter (and the Review Paper’s very own fashionista) Poppy Cook with her first of four performances throughout the week. Her sweet acoustic sounds are enough to make anyone’s heart melt and is sure to have the audience in the palm of her hand tonight at 8pm. Closing the evening at 9pm in the Woodland Bar is Winter Springs, who will be performing songs from their debut EP ‘Summer Is Coming’. Hailing from Leeds, the band inspired by Bon Iver are looking forward to bringing their show to the Isle of Wight!

Opening proceedings in The Observatory at 6pm is Jazzabella, followed by German singer-songwriter Finke Bootsmann, with the first of two performances throughout the course of the week. Rounding off the evening in The Observatory is folk/blues artist Jack Pout who is performing on the back of a nomination at the BBC Folk Awards. His inspirations derive from music of the 70s, particularly artists such as The Faces, Captain Beefheart and John Martyn.

It’s safe to say that you won’t be stuck for anything to do today! So go on out there, you might even discover your new favourite artist… and the best thing is, it’s all free!


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An interview with Joan Ellis

Last year you were here reading extracts from your book, I AM ELLA.BUY ME. you’ve done a lot since then. Do you want to tell us a bit more?

Yes I’ve written 3 more [books], two of which were psychological thrillers. I was quite happy writing chick-lit which is what ‘I AM ELLA. BUY ME’. is and then I met a murderer on a train from Waterloo to Portsmouth.

A murderer?

Yes, a murderer.

Legitimately, you’re telling the truth?

Well, yes. He told me that’s what he’d done and I had no reason to disbelieve him.

He scared the living daylights out of me and people said well why didn’t you get up and move seats and I thought well, I was quite scared of him and I didn’t want to antagonise him.

So I just thought I’d stay calm and keep him calm and pray, and having survived the 90 minutes he asked me to run away with him at the end of the journey.

Obviously I passed on that kind offer.

But I thought I need to write a book about this.

So that is the opening chapter to The Killing of Mummy’s Boy.

What kind of things was he saying to you?

He was telling me a lot of things that only he could have known having been in prison having done what he’d done and having then led the type of life that he had outside.

Is that not something you’d report to the police?

He’d served his time and was out on some kind of licence.

He could have been just fantasising but I wasn’t about to argue with him, he had a great big rucksack.

So in a way you did run away with him…

Yes perhaps I did.

You’ve also written two others. You’ve got GUILT and THE THINGS YOU MISSED WHILE YOU WERE AWAY which is quite convenient for this interview…


Having written THE KILLING OF MUMMY’S BOY, which is set mainly here on the Island, I enjoyed writing the twists and turns that a psychological thriller needs and coming up with an ending that nobody could guess.

I wrote GUILT which is based on a true life tragic event and it’s about a little girl who’s left alone with her younger brother and he dies in her care. She has to discover the truth about what did happen and find out the truth about herself, her parents, and what really happened that afternoon.

It sounds like a very unhappy book but it’s got a really uplifting ending.

Then I wrote THE THINGS YOU MISSED WHILE YOU WERE AWAY which is based on a column I used to write about my little girl when she was so small she couldn’t stop me writing stuff about her. I was a single parent to my daughter, my mum was a single parent to me but it’s basically saying that everything is going to be fine, you don’t have to be a part of a traditional, nuclear, 2.4 children and a dog family to be happy because love, as you know, comes from lots of unexpected places to fill our hearts.”

If you want to hear the rest of this interview go to

Joan will be giving a reading from four of her books, looking at the female characters and their natural development in each story tonight @ 7.30pm in The Scout Hut. 

Fringe’s Fashionista must see of the week

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Shakespearian men in Matrix jackets, blonde bombshells in swaggy shades and more tweed than you could shake a stick at! Today’s vintage fashion show had some rocking style combinations, merging classic vintage  with a modern day twist. Audience members enjoyed the show over cups of homemade lemonade, cream teas and boozy coffees from the fabulous Travelling Tea Rooms. The models were fabulously dressed by our local vintage shop ‘Oh So Vintage…’ and styled by Ventnor’s fashion finest – Laura Reid. 

If you were at all deterred from leaving your cosy homes by Friday’s grey skies, then fear no more! The fictitious forecast has predicted sizzling sunshine for Saturday morning, so get yourself down to Ventnor Winter Gardens at 1pm for The Vintage, Retro and Craft Fair’s final edition of the Vintage Fashion show. And remember fringers, this is a FREE FRINGE event, and of course my top pick of the week, so be there… or be square. 

p.s. all vintage garments seen on the catwalk will be available for sale after the show… oh you lucky things!