Countdown to festival comedy and movies

Miles Jenner as Billy Merson in "If I Catch Alphonso, Tonight!"

There are just couple of weeks to go to until the 48th annual Rye Arts Festival, which runs from September 13-29 this year and, as well as the classical, folk, blues and world music plus literary talks and walks, there is a brilliant programme of comedy, drama and films on offer.

Fresh from a sell-out run at Edinburgh Festival throughout August the riotous Enid Blyton improvisation show ‘Bumper Blyton’ will get the Rye audience laughing at 4pm on Sunday September 15.

Bumper Blyton

This is Enid Blyton for grown-ups who are either still young at heart or who have never really grown up and who are looking for a splendid adventure on a Sunday afternoon just before going home for a high tea. This will be a riotous parody brimming with innuendo and lashings of puns, as the cast invent an hilarious, improvised adventure live and on the hoof; inspired by audience suggestions.

Edinburgh Fringe’s review said: “What this incredibly polished company have done is to take what is part of many of our childhoods and turn it into comedy gold.”
On Sunday September 22 you can see “If I Catch Alphonso, Tonight!” This will be a lovely afternoon in which you’ll delve into the life and times of one of Music Hall’s greatest and most revered artists, who is now sadly much over-looked – Billy Merson.

Miles Jenner, the head brewer at Lewes brewery Harvey’s, takes time out to play Billy, whose career lasted for 50 years and spanned music hall, revue and cinema, against the backdrop of two world wars. This new musical play contains 16 of the great man’s comic songs. It is a story of a great survivor – a man who bounced back from the ropes again and again. A natural born thriller, Billy was an inspiration for future generations of comedians and his story deserves a hearing. And the show deserves to be seen.

Thursday September 26 brings “A Regular Little Houdini” to Rye Community Centre. This is a multi-award-winning one-man play set in Edwardian South Wales. A dockworker’s son is obsessed by the great Harry Houdini. Despite the chains of poverty, and adult cynicism, our hero trains himself to emulate his hero. And then he meets the great showman, who came to Britain and spent time in Newport, Gwent.

The play is a roller-coaster of emotions but hope, determination and magic win through. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll think. And have an evening of theatre to remember.

Keir Dullea played astronaut David Bowman in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Turning to the movies, there will be three screenings at the Kino. And as we have recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of first lunar landing on Saturday July 20, make a date to go and see a screening of “2001: A Space Odyssey” on Wednesday September 18 at Rye Kino. This movie masterpiece by Stanley Kubrick needs to be seen on a movie screen. The realism, the pioneering special effects and the stunning soundtrack go to make this an all-time classic movie.

And another classic is “Midnight Cowboy”. Starring Dustin Hoffman, and Jon Voight, this is a very different film to The Graduate which Hoffman had just completed. The film won three Oscars and broke new ground. Not only was it the first X-rated film to win the Best Picture Oscar, it was also the first winner in this category to be an LBGT-themed film.

The film was released in 1969 and we are celebrating the 50th anniversary to the very day of its release in the UK with a screening  at 3:10pm in the Kino on Wednesday September 25. The Festival is delighted that the screening will be introduced by Sue Schlesinger, who is the widow of John Schlesinger who directed the movie.

Here we go!

On Monday September 23,  the Festival will be screening The Dam Busters – the 1955 film starring Sir Michael Redgrave as Barnes Wallis, the boffin who invented and built the bouncing bomb. The screening is at 10:30am, and at 7pm on the same day Sir Max Hastings will be talking at The Milligan Theatre. His new book, “Chastise: the Dambusters Story, 1943”, will be hot off the press, since it is being published on September 5.

Tickets for these events and all the others that make up Rye Arts Festival, can be booked online at or in person at the box office in Phillips & Stubbs.

Image Credits: Rye Arts Festival .


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