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A medley of music, comedy, improvisation and theatre was given its first fringe fiesta outing at expat clubs across the kingdom and the final act took place at the Brit Club on Friday in a much more laid back atmosphere.
Festival-goers stepped out of the glorious sunshine by the poolside and into the air-conditioned and chilled Windsor Room with many relaxing on bean bags and keeping warm under blankets.
The atmosphere soon heated up inside when the acts took to the stage and I joined the fray half way through the afternoon with some little and large stand-up comedy routines delivered with panache in the shape of Rayaan Chugthai and Ahmed Al Matrook.
We ventured upstairs to Blighty’s too where a marketplace had been set up with the works of artists and craft-makers placed on display. A good crowd joined in a sing-along of tunes played by members of the Bahrain Acoustic Music Group which inspired one guest to give a great version of a ‘dad dance’ to a Queen classic.
There was plenty of time to settle down for food before the appearance of hilarious UK headline comedian/musician Keith Donnelly who knows how to play a crowd with captivating patter and soon had the young and old joining in his act with wild abandon.
I loved his banjo burger joke which I’m going to use when I meet up with my family back in the UK in July. It’s fabulous but I can’t explain it because the punch line is a visual gag. But, please take my word for it, it’s very funny.
Keith, also mercilessly took the micky out of the Brit Club service suggesting throughout his set that he was still waiting for his apple pie and custard to come. The kitchen team got their own back in the end by serving it up to him on stage!
He told me afterwards that he’d played Bahrain once before - 36 years ago - and they’d promised him a return gig. Better late than never!
Bahrain’s own resident super star Sandi Thom ended the night, after rushing from a wedding, and produced sparkling vocals and a mean blow on the harmonica.
Congrats to brave Scott Hughes for launching the event and handling the sound system (Keith got him brilliantly when he stepped away from the controls for a few minutes by pretending his microphone had stopped working) and Hannah Turner, co-executive producer, for keeping the show professionally slick.
Here’s to Bahrain Fringe Festival 2 next year!