5 of the best things to do in Bedford in the days and weeks ahead - from theatre to exhibitions

There's plenty to discover right on your doorstep - and Bedfringe has officially kicked off

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 11:54 am
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 1:08 pm
Agustina Dieguez Buccella performs in Fragile

1 EXHIBITION

Airship Dreams: Escaping Gravity, The Higgins, Bedford until November 28

Recreating a drifty and dreamy sensation like sailing through space, Airship Dreams: Escaping Gravity explores a fascination with airships and the human desire for progress, adventure and the unknown.

The exhibition forms part of a project exploring Bedford’s identity as the historical centre of the UK’s airship industry, past and present. In the 1920s the airship was considered the future of aviation and Bedford’s role as the UK’s global airship hub seemed certain.

The giant Cardington Sheds, just outside Bedford, were home to the R101, which at the time was the largest airship being developed.

However, the ambitious Air Minister, Lord Thomson, determined the airship should sail before it was fully ready and on the night of October 4, 1930, the R101 crashed on its way to Karachi. Some 48 men died, including Lord Thomson.

It was the end of the UK’s airship programme and Bedford’s airship dreams.

Audiences at the museum will experience an audio-visual immersive artwork and a newly composed symphony that rises and falls as a metaphor for the life of the R101 airship.

Audiences enter a ‘sculptural space’, with the video projection filling one wall of the gallery. Choral voices combine with audio reminiscent of airship engines and wind, aiming to create a mythical and meditative journey, as though sailing through an imaginary space on the R101.

2 THEATRE

Fragile, Quarry Theatre, Bedford, July 31, noon

“Fragile is the kind of show that will remind you what it is like to be human,” says Agustina Dieguez Buccella, who is presenting the one-woman performance.

“The audience will reflect, cry, laugh, see themselves up there, and go back home feeling that they discovered something new in them,” she adds.

The story, based on real-life experiences, follows an independent and strong woman who, in a dangerous and deadly situation, is scared of being vulnerable and admitting that she needs help.

She tries to keep up the appearance of power until she realizes that there’s nothing wrong with being fragile.

Agustina was born in Argentina and moved to London in 2018. After graduating as a lawyer she decided to change careers and pursue her passion for theatre.

Fragile is presented as part of the Bedfringe festival.

3 MAGIC

Nightmare Magic, Quarry Theatre, Bedford, July 31, 7.30pm

After a sell-out show at Bedfringe 2019, magician David Alnwick is back with a new kind of show – a ghost story told with magic.

“The show is part play, part magic show, all scary,” says David.

“I was really inspired by ‘A Woman in Black’ and wanted to come up with a one-person ghost story show. There are other actors involved, but you won’t see them.”

During lockdown, David stayed busy, performing an online magic show hosted by Bedford Fringe’s own Quarry Theatre.

“I’m very fortunate that magic translated well to online shows, and I still got to perform a bunch even if it was from my own living room, but now I’m keen to get back on stage.”

This will be David’s first in-person performance since lockdown and it promises both magic and scares.

He says: “Magic doesn’t always have to be amazing – it can be frightening too, and it can tell a story.”

Details: bedfringe.com.

4 FAMILY

This Noisy Isle, The Place, Bedford, August 14 and 15

Inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest, This Noisy Isle will take audiences through a strange, magical new world this summer.

Audiences will steer their team through choppy seas, meet mysterious characters and solve puzzles to search for a new home and find where they belong.

Families will build a den with Caliban, learn magic tricks with Prospero and sing and dance with Ariel on an exciting mission to learn about how people integrate in new countries with new langu-ages.

The show is aimed at children aged seven to 11.

5 MUSIC

Josh Okeefe, Bedford Esquires, August 15

Young and rising folk troubadour Josh Okeefe is returning to the stage after a turbulent couple of years.

He’s finally getting the chance to showcase his critically acclaimed debut full length album Bloomin’ Josh Okeefe.

Having performed sold-out shows from California to New York and from Nashville to London and Glasgow, Okeefe has shared stages with legends including Kris Kristofferson, playing for a crowd of 10,000 at London’s Kenwood House for the iconic songwriter’s birthday celebration.

He’s also performed with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Alison Krauss and Rufus Wainwright, among many others.

In addition, he has joined Bernie Sanders for a ‘Virtual Town Hall Meeting’, and he’s appeared at protest events, helping to draw attention to the Black Lives Matter movement and at the site of the tragic 2017 Grenfell Tower fire in west London, where he performed an original song recounting the harrowing event.

Okeefe, who is originally from Brighton but now lives in Nashville, has earned coveted spots at major music events on both sides of the Atlantic including the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, Black Deer Festival and the Glastonbury Festival in the summer of 2019, at the invitation of Billy Bragg.

Details: joshokeefe.com.