Ventnor Fringe

The Isle of Wight's multi award winning festival

5 minutes with… Ben Rouse

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Bringing Ventnor Fringe to fruition has become a huge task each year, and even with a team of fantastic volunteers and supporters, we have to raise a lot of money every year to deliver the event. We’re incredibly grateful to a range of sponsors and partners who have chosen to support the event including Mackenzies Accountants, The Royal Hotel Ventnor, Red Funnel, Wightlink, Visit Isle of Wight and AJ Wells.

A new supporter of the event this year was Rouse Ltd. A local firm with a long track record of supporting local events and non profits. We had a char with CEO Ben about their involvement.


Rouse Ltd sponsored the Comedy & Cabaret Tent at this year’s festival. What made you want to get involved and help support an event like the Ventnor Fringe?

Home-grown events have the potential to become major attractions and if we get the opportunity to support a sound idea then we welcome that. The Island has long been known for its creativity and Rouse Ltd is keen to help nurture and develop that.

We take a nurturing, holistic approach to financial planning as well – many of our clients have come to see us about a specific problem but have remained with us – some have been with us for more than two decades. Over the last few years we’ve been building Rouse Ltd’s presence in the community and one of our initiatives has been financial education. Last year we successfully brought our financial literacy presentation into most of the Island’s 6th forms – it’s aim being to give that age group an insight into controlling their money before they launch themselves at life, whether into a job or while they’re at university – and we’re intending to do that again in the next academic year.


Who are Rouse Ltd and what do you do?

We’re a team of independent financial planners, based in Newport. Our team comprises Chartered Financial Planners and Certified Financial Planner™ professionals. We are specialists in pensions, investments, tax planning and mortgages. And anyone reading this who thinks they’re too young to be thinking about a pension – you’re not! Now is never too early!


What makes you choose the Isle of Wight as the home for your business?

I was born and brought up in Ventnor so it has always been special to me. I have spent time away but I think, as many people find, the magic draws you back! Having the business based on the Island means we can offer a good work/life balance. Obviously, there are some great leisure opportunities!


What are the challenges and benefits to being based on the Island? 

In terms of challenges, the Island can sometimes be perceived as a place of limited opportunity and some view the Solent as a barrier to progress. That might have been the case at one time but now there are some very forward-thinking, creative businesses in a variety of sectors based here. And with the development of Gigabit Island it will make it a more attractive prospect for businesses who want to be connected but still enjoy a more relaxed place to live.


Where can people find out more about Rouse Ltd?

On our website, Or contact us at We also have regular podcasts uploaded covering specific topics in financial planning.

Thanks Ben for taking the time to have a chat.  

There was a fantastic range of acts to choose from this year – congratulations again on the growth of the Fringe.


If you’d like to support the Ventnor Fringe please get in touch at an we can explore how to work together.


CHAMPS has sold out! Now what?

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CHAMPS live show at Harbourside has sold out! Where you to slow to get a ticket? Fear not, here are some fantastic alternatives you don’t want to miss


1.) Post Animal @ Harbourside

Harbourside Bar, Ventnor Esplanade

If the idea of a great gig on the Harbour sounded appealing, check out POST ANIMAL playing the night before.

Overflowing with riffs and reckless abandon, Post Animal is a psych rock five-piece from the tightly knit Chicago music scene.

After initially drawing comparisons to Tame Impala, the band have gone on to develop their own distinct sound that we think is a perfect fit for Ventnor, and we’re thrilled to be alongside cities like Berlin, Paris, Manchester and Glasgow in their first European tour.

Fri 26th July / 19:00hrs / Tickets: £10 / 16+ 



This venue has step free access. It is a standing gig but space for wheelchairs can be reserved by calling (01983) 716767  or booking in person at Ventnor Exchange. An accessible toilet is available next to the venue using a radar key.


2.) Barney Artist @ Harbourside

Harbourside Bar, Ventnor Esplanade

Another great gig on the Harbour will be Loyle Carner’s ‘One to Watch’ the energetic, enthusiastic and explosive performer BARNEY ARTIST 

The 26-year-old east Londoner fuses 90s era boom bap hip-hop with jazz for a refreshing sound harkening back to legends such as A Tribe Called Quest and The Roots, and taking influence from prolific UK artists including Kano and Ghostpoet.

His debut album HOME IS WHERE THE ART IS explores a number of deeply personal topics, and features a stellar line up of names including TOM MISCH, JORDAN RAKEI, ALFA MIST, EMMAVIE, DORNIK and GEORGE THE POET

Thurs 25th July / 19:00hrs / Tickets: £10 / 16+ 



This venue has step free access. It is a standing gig but space for wheelchairs can be reserved by calling (01983) 716767  or booking in person at Ventnor Exchange. An accessible toilet is available next to the venue using a radar key.


3.) Lamplighters 

Comedy & Cabaret Tent, Parkside

Need something else to do on Saturday night? How about a wild card with a trip up to the Comedy & Cabaret Tent for LAMPLIGHTERS 

A one-man interactive spy story that’s part game, part interactive theatre, part improv comedy, Neil Connolly plays a Spymaster and the audience his spy network. villains to thwart and secrets to be stolen. But he can’t do it alone.

Lamplighters is a (silly) but loving parody of John le Carre’s Cold War masterpieces. A trip behind the Iron Curtain has never been so fun.


Sat 27th + Sun 28th July / 18:30hrs / Tickets: £10 / Conc. £8 / All Ages 



This venue has step free access. Front row seats or wheelchair space can be reserved by calling (01983) 716767  or booking in person at Ventnor Exchange. An accessible toilet is available at this venue.

Watch: 10 Years of the Ventnor Fringe

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To mark the tenth anniversary of Ventnor Fringe, we’re pleased to release this short film about the festival. Originally formed by a group of teenagers keen to do something special in the place they grew up in, the event has gradually grown to become a unique part of the areas identity.


The film was produced by Glass House Productions, another young start up from the Island, with additional archive footage from Luke Bridgeman and photographs by Ventnor based photographer, Julian Winslow.

Turn up the sound and click on the full screen icon to see the film in full size.




Late Night Shows at the Ventnor Fringe

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Late Night Shows at the Ventnor Fringe


When the sun goes down the fun is only just beginning at the Ventnor Fringe. As well as numerous ‘pop up’ spaces to explore, like Hygeia House’s Gin Bar, or Harbourside with DJ’s spinning everything from Northern Soul to Brazilian Beats, the theatres and venues of the Fringe keep on going with late night slots filled with comedy, song and plain madness!

Here’s 5 suggestions for top late night shows at the Fringe you don’t want to miss!

1.) Puppet Pub Quiz

The Magpie (Parkside) Park Avenue, PO38 1LB


A traditional pub quiz – with a twist. Your hosts for the evenings are all puppets! Back by popular demand following sell out performances at the Ventnor Fringe in 2017 these well intentioned but mischievous puppets are reunited for one night only to host a brand new Puppet Pub Quiz!

Test your general knowledge and be in with a chance of winning some fantastic prizes, in a surreal night of comedy and madness. A word of warning, puppets can cheat!

Tues 23rd July / 21:15hrs / Tickets: £6 / 16+

This venue has step free access. Front row seats or wheelchair space can be reserved by calling (01983) 716767  or booking in person at Ventnor Exchange. A disabled toilet will be available at this venue.

2.) Elsie Diamond:The Sensible Undresser

The Magpie (Parkside) Park Avenue, PO38 1LB


International burlesque star Elsie Diamond is ready to let you know the truth about the so-called glamorous world of cabaret. A comic, naughty and honest piece told through song and striptease.

Taking place in the beautiful new Magpie Tent in Ventnor Park, expect extraordinary costumes and vocals in this much praised show.

Weds 24th July / 21:15hrs / Tickets: £10 / Conc. £9  / Fringe Friends 2for1 /  18+

This venue has step free access. Front row seats or wheelchair space can be reserved by calling (01983) 716767  or booking in person at Ventnor Exchange. A disabled toilet will be available at this venue.


3.) The Astonishing Singing Fish

Comedy & Cabaret Tent (Parkside) Park Avenue, PO38 1LB


It’s a rocky road for a singing goldfish who wants to play the lead in Les Miserables. Along with his hapless scientist friend he will warm your heart with his dulcet baritone voice in this new musical comedy. You gotta see it to believe it. Combining a mixture of catchy songs, silly jokes and a healthy dose of sight gags, the human & fish duo will have to figure out how to navigate the treacherous waters of show business. And as expected, nothing goes to plan. Enjoy the madness!

Flying Dutchman Theatre where a big hit in the early days of the Ventnor Fringe with a musical about the mystery of a missing guinea pig still talked about today. After a 6 year absence we can’t wait to welcome them back!

Weds 24th July & Friday 26th July / 22:00hrs / Tickets: £12 / Conc. £10  / Group Discounts / Fringe Friends 2for1 / All Ages

This venue has step free access. Front row seats or wheelchair space can be reserved by calling (01983) 716767  or booking in person at Ventnor Exchange. A disabled toilet will be available at this venue.


4.) Chris Stokes: We Don’t Need Roads

Comedy & Cabaret Tent (Parkside) Park Avenue, PO38 1LB


Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018, Just The Tonic, Phil McIntyre Entertainment

Award-winning comedian and storyteller Chris Stokes brings his latest solo show to Ventnor Fringe, tackling subjects from the shape of time and the theory of eternalism to childhood birthdays and calling your nan the worst word imaginable. Juxtaposing hi- and lo-brow, Chris’ latest solo show is his best yet.

Fresh from touring as support for the likes of Milton Jones & Jason Manford he’s the perfect act for late night laugh.


Thurs  25th July / 22:00hrs / Tickets: £8 / Fringe Friends 2for1 / 16+

This venue has step free access. Front row seats or wheelchair space can be reserved by calling (01983) 716767  or booking in person at Ventnor Exchange. A disabled toilet will be available at this venue.

5.) Eddie Summers – School of Burglary

Comedy & Cabaret Tent (Parkside) Park Avenue, PO38 1LB


Relentlessly energetic Eddie leads us through the physical demands of cutting alarm systems, dealing with dangerous dogs and blowing bank safes… but he’s terrible at it! Prop/stand-up/absurdist burglary as taught by an idiot.

A rising star on the alternative scene and a big a cult hit at the Ventnor Fringe for many years now, Eddie Summers is back, direct from a hit run at the Brighton Fringe.

Sat 27th July / 22:00hrs / Tickets: £10 /  Conc. £8 / Fringe Friends 2for1 / 18+

This venue has step free access. Front row seats or wheelchair space can be reserved by calling (01983) 716767  or booking in person at Ventnor Exchange. A disabled toilet will be available at this venue.


5 Shows Most Likely To Sell Out First!

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5 Shows Most Likely To Sell Out First!


With nearly all of the 90+ different shows at this year’s Ventnor Fringe now on sale, alongside masses of free events too, it can be hard to decide to what to see. In the lead up to the Fringe we’ll be posting regular articles with information, ideas, interviews and updates to help you find the perfect events for you and make the most of the festival.

First up, we take a look at the shows we think are most likely to sell out first…

1.) Love, Loss and Head Lice 

Hygeia House (Downtown) 64 High Street, PO38 1LT

On the opening night of the Fringe, two veterans of the Festival host their first show as a duo in the form of ‘Love, Loss and Head Lice’. Billed as a macabre yet light-hearted show in which Doolally and Reid, two women in their 30s, obsessively pick over the highs, the lows and the dreary middles of modern love, told through the medium of spoken word and song. With a big local following, we know it’s guaranteed to be popular.

Taking place in one of our new venues, this old pub in the centre of town will be transformed into a hub of creativity and re-born as Hygeia House, named after Ventnor’s emblem, the Greek goddess of good health. Hosting a gin bar, gallery and intimate theatre with 4 shows a day, it’s a microcosm of the Fringe itself!

Tues 23rd July / 21:00hrs / Tickets: £6 / 18+ 


This venue has step free access. Front row seats or wheelchair space can be reserved by calling (01983) 716767  or booking in person at Ventnor Exchange. Unfortunately, as a ‘pop up’ venue, there is no disabled toilet at this venue. 


2.) Gráinne Maguire: Guys, It’s Problematic 

Comedy & Cabaret Tent (Parkside) Park Avenue, PO38 1LB

Award-winning comedian Gráinne Maguire bring a sparkling, exhilarating and life-affirming show about why we should all be Team Titanic. A writer on 8 Out of 10 Cats and The Last Leg, she has had sold out shows at Ventnor Exchange, but this is her first performance at Ventnor Fringe. Advance ticket sales are already strong and this looks likely to be one of the first stand up shows to sell out this year.

Weds 24th July / 20:30hrs / Tickets: £10 / Conc. £8 / Friends 2for1 / 16+ 


This venue has step free access. Front row seats or wheelchair space can be reserved by calling (01983) 716767  or booking in person at Ventnor Exchange. A disabled toilet will be available at this venue.


3.) Poetry, Autism and Me 

The Book Bus (Downtown) Church Street, PO38 1SW

In this frank and blisteringly honest debut, Island native P.W. Gates combines a candid discussion into what it’s like to be an autistic writer in the 21st century with a collection of her poetry.

Performed in the beautiful ‘Book Bus’ events in this intimate space sell out quickly as capacity is very limited. However, if you miss out you can visit during the daytimes for free when it is open from 10:00hrs – 18:00hrs

Weds 24th & Thurs 25th July / 18:30hrs / Tickets: £3 / 16+ 


This is an old fashioned vehicle with two steps to gain access and which a wheelchair would not be able to fit into. There are rails and people on hand to help those who can make the two steps. A disabled toilet is located in St. Catheirne’s Church, next to The Book Bus. 


4.) Drunk Women Solving Crime

Ventnor Arts Club (Downtown) 13 High Street, PO38 1RZ

One of the most talked about new comedy podcasts of the last year comes to Ventnor on the back of its sell out London residency. Drunk Women Solving Crime is a true crime podcast with a twist…of lime. Each episode sees the boozed-up panel of writer/comedian hosts Catie Wilkins, Taylor Glenn and Ventnor local Hannah George, welcome a top guest to test out their drunk detective skills and solve true crime cases.

Tickets for this event are flying out and it could well be the first sold out show of the Fringe – be quick!

Sat 27th July / 17:00hrs & 19:00hrs / Tickets: £10 / 16+ 


There is one step at the entrance into this venue. Front row seats or wheelchair space can be reserved by calling (01983) 716767 or booking in person at Ventnor Exchange. However please note that there is a flight of steps to the toilets in this venue. 


5.) CHAMPS @ Harbourside

Harbourside Bar (Harbourside) Ventnor Esplanade, PO38 1JR

Fresh from signing a new record deal with BMG, brothers Mike and David Champion, aka CHAMPS, are flying high with new music and album No3 in the pipeline. We welcome them back to the Ventnor Fringe for a now rare hometown show that is guaranteed to be sold out in advance of the Festival so be quick if you want to get into this one!

Sat 27th July / 19:00hrs / Tickets: £10 / 16+ 


This venue has step free access. This is a standing gig but chairs/wheelchair space can be reserved by calling (01983) 716767  or booking in person at Ventnor Exchange. A public disabled toilet is located just opposite the venue. 

Amazing Opportunities for 15-18 Year Olds at the Fringe!

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This year Ventnor Fringe and Lift The Lid are offering young people aged 15-18 an amazing opportunity to take part in a unique 3 day experience as part of the Ventnor Fringe Festival, going behind the scenes to meet the artists that make it all happen.

From Friday 26 – Sunday 28 July 2019, a Young Actors group will get the opportunity to see a range of shows at the Festival as well as meet some of the performers and directors behind them. Professional actors from these productions will host special intensive workshops as the group work towards producing their own piece to be performed on the last day of the Festival!

At the same time, a Young Artists group will get the opportunity to have personal guided tours around a wide range of exhibitions, working with a range of materials to make their own work, inspired by the artists they’ll meet.

There are 10 spaces available in each group, and those who take part will also be able to qualify for an Arts Award (Free moderation and certification included!)

It’s completely free to take part and spaces are very limited.


Dates and Times

Performing Arts Group

Friday 26th July 12:00hrs – 18:00hrs

Saturday 27th July 16:00hrs – 22:00hrs

Sunday 28th July 14:00hrs – 19:30hrs (plus optional extra to watch the 10th Anniversary Concert until 21:00hrs)


Visual Arts Group

Friday 26th July 12:00hrs – 18:00hrs

Saturday 27th July 12:00hrs – 18:00hrs

Sunday 28th July 12:00hrs – 19:30hrs (plus optional extra to watch the 10th Anniversary Concert until 21:00hrs)



Impromptu Shakespeare and Top Stand Up For New Fringe Venues

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Ventnor Fringe has announced the first of a number of new venues for this year’s festival, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary from 23rd-28th July.
Ventnor Park/Parkside, to the west of the town centre, will have at its centre The Magpie, an intimate Big Top hosting theatre, comedy, family shows and circus with the first shows to go on sale including the acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe hit IMPROMPTU SHAKESPEARE. Featuring a cast of leading theatrical and comedic improvisers and bringing an entirely new and unique Shakespeare play inspired by audience suggestions with each performance.

Other highlights include PICK OF THE FRINGE with a showcase of some of the best new comedians performing from across the festival, hosted by two times Edinburgh Comedy Award Nominee AHIR SHAH (Live at the Apollo, The Mash Report, BBC 2)
A dedicated Comedy & Cabaret Tent in the Park will also host Edinburgh Previews from fast rising comedians such as CHRIS STOKES (BBC 3, Dave, Radio 4, Milton Jones & Jason Manford support) GLENN MOORE (Mock the Week, Absolute Radio, Stand Up Central) GRÁINNE MAGUIRE(Dave’s UnSpun, BBC 1 This Week, Radio 4) and BILAL ZAFAR (Edinburgh Best Newcomer Nominee, Hackney Empire new act of the year, Channel 4, Sky Arts, MTV and BBC Radio 4) as well as the return of the PUPPET PUB QUIZ (a quiz night hosted by puppets!)

This year the Ventnor Fringe will feature more than 90 different shows across 10 unique venues plus numerous free acts, pop up shows and secret spaces.
Festival Co-Director Mhairi Macaulay said “Over 30 shows are now on sale with tickets already outselling this stage last year which is fantastic! Every performance will be on sale by the end of May and there really is something for everyone. After ten years it feels like there is a real momentum behind the Ventnor Fringe now”
For more information and tickets visit #vfringe19

5 Minutes with… Chris Jones

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This year is Ventnor Fringe’s 10th Birthday and you may have started to spot some people with some special 10th edition badges which you can get hold of in the Ventnor Exchange. We had a chat with the designer behind them, Chris Jones.

Hi Chris, Tell us a little bit who about who you are and what you create?
Hi. I am an artist, photographer and designer living in the sunny town of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. I would consider myself multi-disciplinary; I like my art to be weird, my photography to be dark, and my design to be bright, friendly and accessible. I work mostly in design these days as it pays the bills, but have had a good stint as a photo artist exhibiting on the Island and in London, as well as being published internationally. I consider Art to be in my blood and have been creating for as long as I’ve been able to hold a pencil. Additionally (and no less importantly), I am a father to two boys and a husband to Island wedding photographer, Lucy Boynton.

You’ve designed some Ventnor Fringe 10th anniversary badges (Which are fantastic by the way) What do you think about the Ventnor Fringe? Do you think it’s been positive for the Island?

Thank you. They were fun to design! Ventnor Fringe was just beginning when I first moved to Ventnor, and I had just started to get involved with an art group called The Undecided Art Collective (The UAC). Aside from being incredibly accommodating to The UAC (providing exhibition spaces during Fringe week in the past), I think Ventnor Fringe is one of the most culturally vibrant events on the Island right now. I think it’s impact on Ventnor has completely transformed the town, and I look forward to seeing what the Fringe team has planned each year.

Your work spans both graphic design and photography, do you find any similarities in your process?
Yes and No. I think there are crossovers in processes – for example, working in photography helps improve composition. Working in design greatly enhances my understanding of colour, form and function. But I think the similarities end there. Photography has always been a conduit for the way I see myself and the world and the world through a lens is indeed a strange, delightful place. With design, I am more focussed on my client’s needs and approach it more as a form ofl problem solving. There is heart and soul in both, but coming from very different angles.
What are you working on at the moment? Is there anything we should keep an eye out for?
Professionally, I am currently very busy managing two website designs, as well as a re-branding for a well-known Islander. These are both secret projects for the time being, but all will be revealed! Personally, I continue to practice and refine my skills. Lucy and I have also been working on a photographic book entitled, ‘Clap Your Hands’. It’s a slightly psychedelic take on Bestival photographed over the span of three years. We took thousands of photos, and editing this down into a digestive format was a task in itself! I think many Islanders remember Bestival with a great deal of affection and fondness, and this series of photographs aims to capture exactly what it was that made it such a special event. What I really love about this project is the deliberately unexpected take on the subject where we focussed purely on environment and revelry rather than the main stage big acts. As such, It is very much a love letter to that time and place.
Where can we find your work?
I am currently working on a new website. For now, I am using Instagram to share my work; for my photography and for my design work. Give me a follow!
Photo by Lucy Boynton Photography.
You can buy Ventnor Fringe badges (Designed by Chris) from the Ventnor Exchange, and in doing so help in our big fundraising efforts for this year’s event.

Ventnor Fringe: Artist Registration Now Open!

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Ventnor Fringe returns for our special 10th Anniversary with new dates from the 23rd -28th July 2019. Artist Registrations are currently open, and we encourage submissions from all art forms including theatre, comedy, cabaret, music and visual arts.

This year we’re expecting to host over 100 performances and we’re very excited to be introducing new venues, more networking and social events for artists and a whole new system for venue hires meaning less upfront costs to taking part.

Our new dates, two weeks earlier than in the past, mean we’re better able to host Edinburgh Previews and we’ll no longer clash with local events like Cowes Week. We’ve already had a host of applications and enquiries in the first 24 hours!

The deadline for Artist Registrations is Tuesday 30th April.

See you in the summer!

Died Blondes: A Review from Cat James

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Joan Ellis’ Platinum Performance

The joy and pain of any fringe, whether it’s Ventnor or Edinburgh, starts with a game of chance. No matter how expertly the festival is curated, regardless of how well the poster is designed or how many five star reviews are quoted on the flyer, buying a ticket to a show has a certain element of fringe roulette. Nonetheless, the disappointed faces outside Trinity Hall anxious for ticket returns, suggested that Died Blondes by the Island’s own Joan Ellis was the hottest show in town.

Joan’ self-penned monologues suggest the feelings and motivations behind the last nights of murderer Ruth Ellis and actress Marilyn Monroe. Joan introduced us to the stars of her show, explaining how she drew connections between the lives of these two women, particularly their complicated relationships with men. Although both portrayed as victims since their deaths, Joan gives them more nuance; fleshing out their characters and showing us – through her spellbinding performance – their strength as she sees it. As the final moments of Ruth and Marilyn’s tangled lives were unravelled by Joan, we witnessed not only the expected vulnerability but also determination and guile.

Portraying each of these blonde bombshells; with their easy sexy charm, Joan occupied them magnificently. Yet, voice breaking and with the subtlest of posture changes, she also represented their broken, chaotic lives. A sparse set meant that all eyes were transfixed on the performer; even when in silhouette during Joan’s outstanding turn as Marilyn.

Cleverly, Joan uses everyday props to communicate the imagined final thoughts of the women. Ruth’s steadfastness as she reads a letter to her lover David Blakely, while Marilyn confides to ex-husband Joe DiMaggio down the phone. When the story came to its natural end, the audience was mesmerized.

As Joan emerged from behind Marilyn’s screen to take her bow in front of the small but enthusiastic crowd, we could see that she had seamlessly squeezed in a costume change between monologues. This self-contained show written and performed by the outstandingly talented Joan Ellis is one you won’t want to miss. Joan showed us joy and pain in this triumph of 2018’s Ventnor Fringe. – Cat James