Cell Outs

Offbeat, Oxford’s very own fringe theatre festival, is back with a bumper programme of exciting shows and events this summer, so here’s our Offbeat Guide to the best of the festival.

Hosted by Oxford Playhouse and the Old Fire Station, with New Theatre Oxford taking part for the first time, it runs from Monday 11 to Saturday 17 July.

“I’m super excited to perform again. It’s amaaaaaaazing to be back”

Over six days the jam-packed programme of live theatre, dance, comedy, new writing, spoken word, and outdoor experiences will take place in Oxford’s theatres and outdoor locations around the city from from Gloucester Green and Wellington Square Gardens to Cornmarket Street. Others are online and many are free.

Here are our top picks:

  1. THEATRE: Bad Boy DiscoWednesday July 13, BT Studio. 18+

Bad Boy Disco was born during lockdown, and aimed at “anyone who has ever loved a piece of art (music, TV show, film) and discovered it was made by a terrible person”. Silly, funny, thought-provoking and ever evolving. 18+ Book at https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/bad-boy-disco

2) RUNNING: As We Run We BecomeJuly 14-16. Meet at Oxford Playhouse 

As We Run We Become

Jennifer Jackson invites women to run along Oxford’s canal path with her on a one-to-one basis for ‘up to’ 40 minutes, ending at the Old Fire Station Cafe for a cup of tea/coffee. Whilst you travel, she will chat about your experiences of exercising and moving through public spaces. Yes really! https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/as-we-run-we-become

3) FAMILY THEATRE: The Munch Mission, July 17, BT Studio, 6+

Munch Mission

There’s been a theft of world famous artwork from Oslo National Museum. Do you possess the wit, nerve and skill to become a CIA agent? Work with agents Kahlo and Dali of the Company of International Artists to solve a fiendishly sneaky art heist. This quirky, interactive family theatre show blends comedy, narrative and memorable characters in this unique adventure. Book at http://www.offbeatoxford.co.uk/2022-events/2022/7/17/the-munch-mission

4) Exposé: Cell Outs, Thursday, July 14, Old Fire Station. 16+

Cell Outs

“Being able to share these stories with a live audience again feels electric”

Honest and uncompromising, this autobiographical journey is an exposé of the UK prison system performed by two ex-prison officers who play multiple characters, exploring the hilarious and heart-breaking reality of life working behind bars. Combining dark comedy, song and verbatim interviews, it is is written and dedicated to those living and working in the UK prison system to shed light on their daily ordeal. “Being able to share these stories with a live audience feels electric,” Church and Troup said. 

5) BY PHONE: Interactive audio experience – Interdimensional Phishing Scam, July 11 – 17.

Interdimensional Phishing Scam

Full of surreal comedy and unforeseen consequences, you, the audience, receive a phone call by mistake about compensation that a version of you from an alternate dimension is owed. As you try and claim it, you are pulled through a series of different call centres from parallel universes. Book at: https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/interdimensional-phishing-scam

6) COMEDY: I Heart Michel Ball, July 14, Ambassador Lounge, New Theatre Oxford. 14+

This dark musical comedy from Split Infinitive features Alex, founder of the Michael Ball Appreciation Society, who is holding the 10th bi-annual meeting, complete with an unnerving surprise. This engaging and interactive show ensures the audience is part of the action, because they are all inadvertent members of the Michael Ball Appreciation Society. “It will be amazing to be back back in front of a live, responsive audience. It is where we need to be and cannot wait to bring the show to Oxford,” Split Infinitive said. Book at: https://oldfirestation.org.uk/whats-on/i-heart-michael-ball/

7) WALKABOUT: Blockbuster Factory, Sunday, July 17, 11.30am-3pm. Cornmarket Street, Oxford. No need to book, just come along! Age recommendation 0-100.

A highly immersive walkabout show by Cat and Mouse Theatre, you can become the stars and crew of Blockbuster movies from action heroes to sporting heroes, space battles, superheroes, dragons, detectives and more. “We wanted people to experience the joy of making movies without all the boring bits, so we cast, shoot and release the movie in 50 minutes. It’s so exciting to be back we can hardly contain ourselves,” they said.

8) MUSIC: Larkhall, Say You’re With Me, Wednesday, July 13, New Theatre Oxford


A music show for techies, with a really strong visual element. Following his first album The Sea Was Never Blue (#2 on the iTunes Classical chart), Larkhall returns with this stunning new show combining heart-breaking piano compositions with mind-blowing live-reactive visual interpretations. Centred around his experience overcoming depression after the birth of his second son, Say You’re With Me is Larkhall’s newest album— treat yourself to a sumptuous hour in his smart and honest company. “I’ve spent all of lockdown putting this together. It’s finally ready to show to people and I’m super excited to perform it. It’s amaaaaaaazing to be back. I feel like I’m discovering new ways to love it that I didn’t even know before,” he says. Book here: https://oldfirestation.org.uk/whats-on/larkhall-say-youre-with-me/

9) GUIDED TOUR: The Land’s Heart Is Greater Than It’s Map, begins at Oxford Playhouse, July 13- 17.

The Land’s Heart

Interested in travelling without having to leave your own city, in using your imagination to construct a different city to the one you’re in, about learning more about the human experiences of displacement, exile and occupation? Discover a far away city which cannot be named, where its people are silenced and its landscape disappearing. A resident, facing exile, records the stories behind his favourite places and takes you on a guided tour that no other tourists will ever see. “Our intention is to find new ways for people to listen to a story they might ordinarily ignore,” the organisers explain. A 70 minute walk around the streets of Oxford. Book here: https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/the-lands-heart-is-greater-than-its-map

10) Musical theatre and art: POP ART: A GATHER.TOWN MUSICAL. July 11-12. Online.

Meet Lisa (of Mona Lisa fame). She’s been stuck in a frame for 500 years, but now she’s itching to see the wider world. Join musical theatre company leo&hyde on a digital adventure. Follow Lisa through a digital art gallery, as she meets iconic artists from Michelangelo and Da Vinci to Frida Kahlo and Van Gogh. Each with their own pop banger – has an important story to share. Art as you’ve never seen – or heard – it before! https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/pop-art-a-gather-town-musical

For more information on these and the multiple other incredible shows go to: http://www.offbeatoxford.co.uk/whatson