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It may be October but that doesn’t mean the festival season is over. OK, the opportunities for lying in a field, listening to music whilst a nearby man in an ill-fitting tee shirt shouts “You ain’t Floyd,” at every band who takes the stage, are now limited – and thank Dave Gilmour for that I say – this month two festivals take place which, whilst only twenty miles apart geographically, are probably as far removed artistically as it’s possible to be.
The Spill Festival in Ipswich and the Colchester Comedy Festival are still relative newcomers to the calendar, being in their fifth and fourth years respectively, yet both feel like they know where their towel is.
Spill, the creative spawn of the Pacitti Company, manifests itself in Ipswich every other year – Ipswich allowing the Southbank in London to share the glory on the odd years – and is probably the most un-Ipswich thing which Ipswich has ever experienced. Billed as a Festival of Performance, Spill is five days of the most strangely alluring, oddly entertaining and freakishly wondrous entertainment ever to cross the Orwell. From the 26th to the 30th October over seventy events, ranging from performance art to music, video installations to formal discussions will take place around Ipswich.
If you’ve a mainstream palate then it’s likely that you’ll find the flavour of Spill alien and challenging but if you’ve a taste for the odd, or are simply willing to persevere you may find much on the Spill menu to your liking. After all few of us were born with a taste for wasabi or malt whisky and yet we learn to love and savour those things.
If shows entitled Rhizome 2.0, Tonight is the Night Baby and Forever But No Recycling and Hard C*ck make you sit up and take notice then pick yourself up a programme, take a look at the website spillfestival.com, or just take the plunge and buy yourself a festival pass. If you’d prefer to just dip your toes, then there are free shows every day of the festival and individual tickets for each event.
Ten venues around the town host the Colchester Comedy Festival from 30th September until 16th October. Whilst it will no doubt continue to evolve, the festival feels as though its found its format now and will feature some seasoned comedy circuit performers, in addition to the best of the up and coming, some comedy theatre, selected comedy films and comedy workshops for adults and children.
Miles Jupp, Rich Hall, Lucy Porter, Simon Munnery, Jo Caulfield and Shappi Khorsandi are the names which will doubtless be recognised but anyone who’s ever visited a comedy club will tell you that it’s the comedians you’ve never heard of who will often give you the biggest laughs. Regular Colchester comedy clubs, The Big Cheese, Laughter Zone and the Funny Farm, all hold club nights during the festival and the Colchester New Comedian of the Year competition will take place at a selection of venues during the festival, with the final at the Arts Centre on the afternoon of the last day of the festival.
Tickets start from under a tenner, but a still less than £20 for the likes of Miles Jupp and Rich Hall or, as I should say in the case of the latter, were, as he’s sold out. Local dignitary His Worshipfulness A Mayor of Colchester will unveil his Civic Ceremonial IV. He advises all who wish to attend upon him at the town hall on the 12th or 15th to bring a stout pair of walking underwear and a change of opinion.
The websites of the venues involved will host details of times and prices but you can navigate to them all from the beautifully appointed Colchester Comedy Festival website at colchestercomedyfestival.co.uk.