Beside the Greenside

Despite the promise of five ''appenings' on the poster, on arrival at Beside The Greenside, it is immediately clear that very little is 'appening there at all. Situated on a small patch of grass behind a church, Mardy Arts' artistic residency feels more like a dressed-up entrance to a car park than an artistic event. Certainly, there's nothing to really dislike about it. But nor is there much to feel anything about.

Mardy Arts aren't aiming to excite – we are greeted on arrival by the encouragement to 'come and potter and ponder'. This is, of course, fine, and could even be refreshing at a festival as frenzied as the Fringe. Yet the fact that 'come and potter and ponder' are the very words that appear on the poster feels symptomatic of a lack of creativity or spark at the event itself. Indeed, none of the 'appenings show much creative thought. The promised 'Bunt Fest' simply consists of lots of colourful bunting, the 'Hole in One' putting post was almost imperceptible since no one was playing on it, and 'The Pottering Shed', - a headliner of sorts - is just a small shed filled with items familiar from charity shops: A small, grubby disco ball, a mask, a fake fiver, a painting of a cat - all, I was earnestly informed, were genuinely from charity shops. It's nice to think that so many charities have benefited from this event. But with little to distinguish 'The Pottering Shed' from a real charity shop, I couldn't help but feel that the charities are really the only ones benefitting.

The most lively part of 'Beside the Greenside' is 'The Jamboree Tent', a modest yellow marquee next to 'The Pottering Shed' in which three or four very amicable friends of Mardy Arts drink tea. There's a very genial atmosphere in there and they really do offer you tea and biscuits, as the poster promised. But the word 'Jamboree' is as superfluous and misleading as the event as a whole is underwhelming. In fact, contrary to the sign outside 'The Pottering Shed' that reads 'Nothing is Difficult', it's a struggle to think of anything worth drawing attention to at 'Beside The Greenside'. It calls itself the Fringe's best-kept secret, but there is in fact very little to tell.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

The Blurb

Mardy Arts return for our annual artistic residency. Potter and share a ponder with us at the best kept secret of the festival. For our full programme of events and 'appenings take a gander at www.mardyarts.co.uk.

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