Fringe Review

Ventnor - By Tobias Penner

What to do on Monday

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So it’s the Monday before Ventnor Fringe Festival, be sure to enjoy the scenic pastimes available in and around our beautiful, bizarre town and coastline before everything kicks off tomorrow.

1 – Crabbing
For a few pounds, you can purchase yourself a bucket, some fishing wire (Wendy’s in town can
supply these) and some bacon (from any of the local fresh meat sellers). Head down to the left of Ventnor Haven, to Wheelers Bay or to the right of the Spyglass. With this Holy Trinity of cheap fun, you can have hours of fun dangling your enticing bait and luring many a crab. When you have a bucket full, throw them back in and start again. Maybe name the crabs. Maybe race them. But be sure to treat them with kindness and respect.

2 – Paddling
Take off your shoesies, roll up your jeans and get in. The Ventnor waters and fresh sea air were once reputed by the Victorians to cure many complaints such as consumption, syphilis and ennui. Freshen up your feet and get the blood flowing and then maybe you may be tempted by…

3 – Swimming
You have paddled. NOW COMMIT. Ventnor beach has the lifeguard keeping a watchful eye should you be a novice sea swimmer, but if you are mindful of currents and stay in your comfort zone, the more secluded coves and beaches such as Bonchurch beach, Woody Bay, and Steephill Cove are magic to dip into. P.S. Night swimming is delicious, but take great care, especially when leaving one’s undergarments behind.

4 – Kayaking
Heading West from Ventnor you can take a stroll along the coastal pathway to Steephill Cove, once a quiet, local secret (until the weekend supplements found out about it) and go see a bearded man about a kayak. You can hire a vessel, paddle out solo or tandem and admire our luscious Island from the mermaid’s point of view.

5 – Bonchurching
Bonchurch is the other-worldly village next to Ventnor to the East. Take in the famous Bonchurch
Pond, where there are many water fowl to feed (fowl friendly food available outside the old post
office), fish to admire and maybe the errant naughty terrapin to marvel at. Though I have it on good authority the terrapins were evicted recently due to antisocial behaviour, I am sure one or two have avoided the nets and are sunbathing as I write. Carry on to the oldest church on the Island, the 11th Century Bonchurch Church, step inside and take some advice from Depeche Mode… (enjoy the silence).

6 – Rock Balancing
Immediately below La Falaise car park, down a sturdy flight of wooden stairs, is a place with all the right rocks to get balancing. Create towers as tall as you can build, then either leave them there for future travellers to marvel at or use for target practise.

7 – Beachglassing
No, this is not Begbie’s favourite beach based leisure activity, but a rather more sedate affair. Ventnor Beach has a good crop of small pieces of smooth beach glass in a variety of colours. Beach (or sea/drift) glass takes 30 to 40 years, and sometimes as much as 100 years, to acquire its characteristic texture and shape from years of rolling and tumbling around the sea bed. Sky blue, bottle green and misty opaque are the most common shades. However, with a keen eye and some patience you can find autumnal reds and browns and sometimes a golden amber.

8 – Downsing
Look out to the sea. Now look behind you. That large, mountainous, wooded mound rising from the town is Ventnor Downs. It is the highest point on the Isle of Wight and is home to Old English feral goats, the Blue Adonis Butterfly and a range of other uncommon beasts. Getting up there is not easy. You can zig zag through the woods, being careful of slippery, sliding leaves, or you can hike straight up the side, starting at the site of the old Ventnor Railway Station on Mitchell Avenue (by the Warehouse). Climbing equipment is not needed, just a fairly strong constitution and willing calf muscles. It is worth it. The scene that awaits you is glorious, with an unparalleled view of the Island’s rolling landscape and a chance to look down on our little town.

9 – Outdoor gymming
Just above Ventnor Park is the marvellous outdoor gym, as affective for fun as it is fitness. With an incredible view of the Channel, you can work out solo or (more fun) in pairs or a group. I like the tandem rowing machine. And the thrusting machine. And the swingy – leggy machine. I don’t know the proper words.

10 – Rock pooling
As the tide retreats, try and find a quiet spot far from the madding crowd and observe a micro sea life centre in amongst the rock pools of the Ventnor coastline. I have had it on good authority you can cook limpets in butter and garlic for a foraged feast, but I prefer to just observe the aquatic splendour and take a sandwich.

It’s the Beginning…

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It’s 2017, the world has become a different place in the last eight years.

Eight years ago, our festival founders were eighteen-year- old students experiencing the first sips of university life, visiting prospective courses and deciphering what career paths to go down. This journey ultimately brought about the question; how they could bring the culture they’d tasted back to the Isle of Wight, or more importantly back to their hometown, Ventnor.

The kids did good eh? But they’re not kids anymore, eight increasingly more successful Fringe festivals, one Ventnor Exchange and countless community projects; I think we can all agree that VFringe has been a change for the better.

Ventnor town has come alive in the last decade, seeing empty shops brim with light, life and laughter. We have two art venues (Ventnor Exchange and Ventnor Arts Club), several artisan eateries (Cantina, Tramezzini and The Bistro), a Tea House, a homemade ice cream parlor, three small supermarkets and countless thirst quenching bars. What does all this ultimately mean. Is this town just a brilliant holiday destination or is Ventnor finally becoming a town of young entrepreneurs making a sustainable living?
The problem that young people have always faced on the Isle of Wight is whether it’s a viable place to live and have a career. Is it possible to build a successful career right here on the southern-most coast of the Isle of Wight?

The town is smarter, more refined and culturally rich than it ever has been, the young people of the town are setting up shop with their businesses. Three businesses are run by young people; Ventnor Exchange, The Tea House (and The Events Co.) and Red Squirrel Studios. Gentrification is always a hot topic in our yearly Fringe Forum. Whilst Jack Whitewood has always steadfast in his belief that gentrification will not happen, or at least is a long-way off for Ventnor, we pose the question: Is it?

The Fringe Review have decided to investigate whether Ventnor is now a viable career option for young people by interviewing successful creative faces that have done just that. Look out for these interviews in the coming six issues of the Fringe Review.

Fourth Time’s The Charm: The Fringe Review Is Back!

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The Fringe Review team will be returning for their fourth year. For those that aren’t familiar with our Review Team here is a breakdown…


2014 was the first year for the Fringe Review Team, a few familiar Fringe faces decided to pull together to produce radio, video, photography and the Review Paper. This means that every aspect of Ventnor Fringe is covered online and on paper for our visiting pilgrims.


Over the last three years faces have returned and new have appeared, this year sees the return of Miri Green, Caty Macaulay, Caroline Barlow, Ben Hanson-Hicks, Laura Reid, Matt Hitt, Dan Trevenna and Tobias Penner.


We’re also very excited to announce that Amy Bruce will be coming on-board as our social media gal. Hailing all the way from London, Amy first made an appearance in Ventnor in 2016, she enjoyed it so much that she’s back again.


Look out for your copy of our Fringe Review paper in all major Fringe venues.


If you want to be snapped with your friends and family at Ventnor Fringe this year make sure you grab Tobias Penner. He’s easy to spot; looks like a Wham member holding a very hard camera.

9 Fringe Shows With Less Than 30 Tickets Left!

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There may be more than a week to go until the Ventnor Fringe but with ticket sales up by about 33% many events are already close to selling out! Here’s a list of 9 shows with less than 30 tickets left!


1.) Walk And Talk – As few as 5 left tickets on some days!

Discover more then you ever knew about Ventnor! From African royalty and international drug smuggling all the way to Oscar winning films and medieval warriors. Starting at the Ventnor Exchange and going out west towards Woody Bay before ending up at Parkside. Approx 2 – 2  1/2 hours.

Weds,Thurs, Fri, 10:30hrs Tickets £3


2.) Lauran Hibberd & Swan Levitt – 12 tickets left!

Two fantastic Island musicians and a great little venue in the form of The Tea House, what could be better? Lauran had an EP launch at the Ventnor Exchange earlier in the year and we were all wowed!

Fri, 19:30hrs Tickets £5 (Friends 2for1)


3.) Bloomsbury and the Isle of Wight – 21 tickets left!

A full afternoon of films and talks about the work of Virginia Woolf and D.H Lawrence. Including introductions from artist Judy Rodrigues and screenwriter Hugh Stoddart.

Tues, 13:30hrs Tickets £10


4.) Annabelle Spencer Live – 22 tickets left!

Young Island talent Annabelle Spencer is a singer songwriter fresh out of Platform One Music College. It’s her first appearance at the Ventnor Fringe and she’ll be performing a host of new work.

Weds 17:30hrs  Tickets £2 (Friends 2for1)


5.) The Water Babies – As few as 22 left tickets on some days!

Following multiple sell out runs at the Ventnor Fringe we’re delighted London’s String Theatre return with the premiere of a brand new marionette show. Following the story of chimney sweep who escapes his hard life into a magical aquatic world of fish, caterpillars and caddisflies String Theatre’s shows always appeal to people of all ages.

Sun 11:00hrs, 13:00hrs & 16:00hrs Tickets £6.00


6.) Doug Alldred & The Silver Lining – 27 tickets left!

Following a string of festival performances, including at the Isle of Wight Festival, this will be an intimate acoustic show in the beautiful surroundings of an 11th century chapel.

Thurs 21:30hrs Tickets £6.00


7.) Uncle Richard – 28 tickets left on some days!

Following performances across the country including at the RSC’s TOP in Stratford upon Avon Tell Tale Theatre return to Ventnor with a new show exploring Henry VIII’s attempts to discover more about his ancestors before he becomes king.

Sat, Sun 18:00hrs Tickets £8.50 Conc. £6.50 (Friends 2for1)


8.) Exit The King – As few as 29 left tickets on some days!

Featuring actor Graham Pountney as King Charles, as he reflects on his imminent execution. Graham featured in Scena Mundi’s Shakespeare productions last year which was one of the highlights of the Festival.

Weds,Fri,Sat 18:00hrs Tickets £9.00 Conc. £5.50 (Friends 2for1)


9.) Talking Heads – As few as 30 left tickets on some days!

One of Alan Bennett’s classic ‘Talking Head’ monologues, Ben Among The Lentils performed by first time visitors to the Ventnor Fringe, the ‘Library Theatre Touring Company’

Thurs, Fri 18:00hrs Tickets £8.00 (Friends 2for1)


Don’t forget there is about 120 acts performing at the Ventnor Fringe this year, with many performing as part of the Free Fringe, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to discover everything!





Lock In

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What has quickly become a hotly anticipated Fringe regular, The Lock In never fails to enthral. This year we were treated by the wonderful JJ Bola and Rex Domino at our Woodland Bar last night. JJ Bola returned on top form after his emphatically well-received set at the fringe the year before. Tears, laughter and everything in between was received in abundance after a truly thought provoking performance, leaving audience members with more than enough to think about. Rex Domino, go-to MC for DJ Yoda, also provided a thoroughly enjoyable set and really is one to look out for! 

FREE THE FRINGE- Saturday 15th August

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It’s the weekend, which means you’ve got no excuse for not letting your hair down and enjoying a bit of free entertainment around Ventnor! 

There’s an absolutely massive lineup in the Woodland Bar, with entertainment of all forms, all day from dawn to dusk. As usual, there will be art and bushcraft workshops as well as yoga sessions with Maitri in the the morning and early afternoon. The music lineup begins with dream-pop duo The Diamond Age ahead of their gig at the Ventnor Arts Club later this evening. They will be followed by the likes of David Littleton, The Delinquents, Slombers Woke, Dave Smith and Cherry Taylor. Whilst all this is going on, outside in the Woodland Bar area will be performances from Kamala Tribal belly dancers and Tilly Twist hula-hoop performer. Closing the evening in the Woodland Bar is the ever-brilliant Ventnor Darlings with an extra-special Ventnor Fringe set!

The Observatory has a bill to match with performances from David Littleton, Tom Francis Turner, Music Craft and Island City Music. There will then be a break in events to make way for the Ventnor Illuminated Carnival extravaganza! So make sure you head on down to the main town so you don’t miss any of the action. The carnival afterparty in The Observatory will be hosted by DJ Kaftan to keep you dancing on into the night!

There will also be a few special performances in the Exchange from David A. Ballard with poetry, Will & Si and the Fringe Review’s very own Poppy Janella! 

Renowned for its performances in strange spaces, Poppy will also be playing a pop-up show in the launderette at 8pm. The perfect opportunity to wash your clothes and listen to fantastic music!

The return of Seska!

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Seska visits Caty and Miri at the Exchange all the way from Izbekistan to tell us about his show ‘Seska and the Magic Beard’. He’s been up to a lot since last year’s Fringe including meeting royalty, the mayor of Reading and sawing a woman in half (unsuccessfully).

Listen to the podcast here!



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We caught up with Charlie Pullinger and Aaron Lee of garage-rock band BullyBones after their blistering performance in the Woodland Bar yesterday.

Q) How did the band initially form?

CP) Me and the guitarist Aaron were friends and started playing guitar bits with each other. We decided to form a band and advertised for a bassist in the paper- we found Illy! Elliot, our drummer, stepped in to replace the previous one.

Q) Who would you say your music is most influenced by?

CP) The Cramps, Iggy & the Stooges, The Doors, Duane Eddy and anything garage or rock ‘n’ roll.

Q) What do you like about playing at festivals?

CP) We like the relaxed atmosphere around the site. We played two sets at the Isle of Wight Festival earlier this year in the JackRocks and Hey Joe tents which was great!

Q) What has been your most memorable moment whilst playing in the band?

CP) Probably guitarist Aaron breaking his foot. We had to help him up a set of stairs before he had to go on stage at a venue in Newport, sat on a wheelchair. 

Q) How would you describe the Fringe in three words?

AL) Intense

CP) Rad… and free.

Thanks very much lads for taking the time out do this interview!

Interviewer: Luke Joynes

Film Festival

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That’s right, Holy Grail stuff baby, the one and only Isle of Wight Film Festival is back and better than ever. Founded in 2007 as a local competition, it has now expanded into an international festival showcasing an extremely high standard of work from across the world. Drama and Documentary Feature films compete for the coveted On The Wight Best Feature Film Award, whilst shorts contest for the Rapanui Best Short Environmental Award, Whatever Pictures Best Drama Award and the Amnesty International Best Human Rights Award. Films are being shown daily on an HD pop up screen in the Sacred Cinema.


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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.