Dredgeland – Camden Fringe

Dredgeland is one of the strangest experiences I have had at a performance. In the space of an hour I have generated my own fandom, been startled by the noises generated by the drunk ladies at the back and ended up craving the strongest beer I could find.

Dredgeland is a live comedy radio show for Hove FM. Created and hosted by Andy Harland and John Dredge, an unlikely duo who have an hour slot to do random segments that I assume are a satire of regional radio.

There is an air of Alan Partridge about the whole affair which I feel if that’s what they are going for, it needs to go further. Having a script on stage is pointless because even if that’s what you do on radio, you’re in front of people on a stage and when your reactions to the unexpected are funnier than the script you might as well let the script go a bit.

On the other hand,  I suppose the script might be needed because the show is… I hypothesise, entirely fake, as in, Hove Radio doesn’t exist? I’m not sure. A lot of this show is a perpetual cycle of “oh I see” “No wait, what?” “What the fuck is going on?” “Hang on…” “Oh I see”. I cannot discern whether that’s the point or whether it’s a lack of clarity but I honestly am not sure what the point of the show is.
After a quick google, I am certain Hove FM is not real. If anything the Twitter page should have given it away.
This pair are welcoming and warm, you get a free badge open entry and they are kind hearted fellow nerds, so I am immediately on their side. They establish a few audience call and responses (which in their defence is difficult in a room of 10) and paint the paint the picture of them being live. Their show is a podcast on their website which is a form of radio, but unless they get people calling in for real (even if it’s actors) and attempt to make a genuine show that then goes wrong it’s not ever clear what is going on.
As the audience is small as soon as a quiz is proposed to the audience I end up volunteering to try and get stuck in. However, as the bizarre quiz unfolds: one man in the audience decides to start shouting “Weeey go on Vickay” as soon as I say my name at the start and it all gets a bit much from there. I end up a team leader and the drunk ladies shout Vicky whenever they can. A drunken game of bogies between man in the front row and the drunk ladies. We win bananas with “you are a winner with Dredgeland” on them and oddly enough, I find that quaint and don’t mind the prizes at all, as Doctor Who says, “potassium is important”.
The experience of the show is ultimately fun, but I left unsure of what I just experienced. I am not expecting BBC Radio 4 comedy at the Camden Fringe but I am expecting some semblance of cohesion and for the pathos of John Dredge to be relatable as we should have an opportunity to get to know him a bit, care enough for the tragic bits to be a bit more tragic.
I hope beans on the corner becomes a thing.

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