Of all the shows featuring at Edinburgh Fringe this year – one you must see is Nando’s and Nandon’ts, a minimalistic musical/comedy, three-man show with chicken and a ukulele at the centre of the performance, by Leicester-based Rebel Breed theatre company. “The quality of the performance is very high,” begins Will Breden, 34 – one of the brains behind the flourishing theatre company and the show. “It’s a fairly current storyline which involves a couple (Melvin and Caroline) who have graduated from university but are starting to question their relationship now they’re out of the student bubble.” The show looks into the before, during and after stage of their relationship and features several silly songs, mostly from the waitress portrayed by Olivia Deane. How could you resist an over-the-top comedy musical many of us can relate to, set in Nando’s? What does Breden want audiences to get from the show? “All the music featured will be live, so I hope out audiences will walk out of the venue with the songs in their heads, having enjoyed that live experience in an intimate venue. I also hope they will be laughing throughout whilst being able to relate to the very common storyline in some way.” The mix of music, songs and sketches will have you laughing and entertained for sure, but I was keen to know how the concept of Nando’s and Nandon’ts came to be. “It started off as a six-minute sketch with only a couple of songs”, created by Breden and writing partner James Ward, the other half of Rebel Breed and a recent graduate from Leicester University. “We both worked on pieces together in the past and thought it was right to produce drama together on a more professional level. The original script for Nando’s was really very silly, but it was well received. After discussing it with James, we wondered if it had the potential to become a full length piece that we could enter into the Leicester comedy festival. It was a more difficult that we first thought. The idea to write the full length play came about early last year. We’ve rehearsed and revised it and we’re now on the twelfth draft of the script! It’s taken a lot of time but has been a really enjoyable process and seeing how far we’ve come has been worth it.” The latest version of the show had its first official preview at the Y Theatre in Leicester two weeks ago. Preparations for their Edinburgh showcase are in full swing, but why did the duo wait until now to present the show? “We could’ve gone last year but we wanted to make sure the show we were taking was as strong as possible…” Breden went on to explain that they’d previewed it a couple of times and re-drafted where necessary from feedback. “I suppose the reason for the delay is that we wanted the show to look as professional as possible for Edinburgh.” Leicester is quite the hub for fringe theatre in the UK. For Nando’s the cast consists of Olivia Rose Deane, a student at Leicester and an established actress in her own right; Hannah Wolden, an associate of one of the theatres in Leicester who specialises in singing and dancing; and James Bloomfield, another Leicester graduate whose strength is the comedic acting. “Thanks to our actors, we have a nice balance of the comedy/acting and musicality required for the show.” With everyone involved in Nando’s either alumni of or students at Leicester, I asked about the scene up there… “It’s getting better,” Breden began with a tinge of humour in his voice. The main theatres in the town include The Curve, “a touring and producing theatre” and the Y Theatre, where he has a strong association. “I’d say the scene is growing. There are a few local theatre companies that have formed as a result of drama/performing arts graduates deciding to stay here. In the next 12 – 18 months, there will be a lot more theatre being toured and produced in Leicester.” Bredan was quite blunt when it came to offering advice for fellow fringe fanatics and theatre makers. “For us, we wanted to be as low risk as possible – and design shows that are very low-cost, production wise. The fact we write and direct our own stuff and operate on a profit-sharing basis means the main cost for us (as I’ve mentioned before) is time!” Perhaps other companies can learn from this, though? “Definitely. Make sure you have the time on your hands to take it seriously. Having your own theatre company is a job, not a hobby. I also think it’s important that you know and trust the people you are working with.” Nando’s & Nandon’ts will be showing from 1 to 10 August at the Edinburgh Fringe. For more information and tickets, visit the Edfringe website.   Photo (c) Nathan Human