Do you like drama that pokes you in the face? If so, watch out for Brief Hiatus. It’s a new Brighton-based drama company — formed in 2016 by Conor, Edd, Sophie and Rosanna — and they’re already punching out a fistful of plays. We caught up with Edd (Berridge) above a pub in London Road to talk about the theatre they do, their recent play based on a Greek myth, and the scary stuff ahead for autumn.
Brief Hiatus perform a mixture of work. There are the pop-up plays, with meticulously hot-housed one week rehearsals, performed and finished as quick as a hen night. “That’s for one night only, you blink and you miss it, so it’s something to savour,” says Edd.
They also work on contemporary drama or classics rehearsed over many weeks that are as up-to-date as News24. The drama doesn’t stay on stage, it might go out of doors, with cast and audience rubbing shoulders. There is no typical Brief Hiatus play.
What’s the thinking behind the company’s work? According to Edd, “We’re looking for ways to subvert and to challenge, and to provide affordable, top quality theatre in Brighton.”
We were impressed by the opener for their autumn season — The Bacchae by Euripides — which gave a flavour of what’s to come. Edd described it as: “Greek tragedy powered by Lady Gaga and there isn’t a toga in sight.” The Katy Perry soundtrack screamed from the mountain: “Yes, yes, yes I’m addicted to your love.”
This play offered us a crazy population bent on frenzy, dosed up to intoxication, laced with obsession. Add a chorus of cultish, independent women weaving their drunken way downhill, tanked up on red wine. Bring in a fabulous, charismatic God-like figure with ambiguous sexuality. No, despite what you’re thinking, this isn’t the local club scene. Or is it? The wild collective live on the hill. In town, the old guard don’t like the smell of what’s brewing. There is either going to be a fabulous party or a hedonistic disaster. We live in Brighton — we know the script.
This was rip roaring theatre from 2,500 years ago, but Brief Hiatus’s version pointed to the present: where does passionate cult-like devotion conflict or converge with the rational social order?
Next up is ‘The Revenger’s Tragedy’ at the Brighton Open Air Theatre, which Ed tells us, involved assembling “a troupe of freaks, losers and trashbags for our filthiest, funniest, downright dirtiest production yet”. Business as usual then.
“Expect to be thrilled…expect to be disgusted,” says Edd. Who needs West Street? It’s followed by Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber for Halloween (near Preston Manor), where you might just spot Dracula. The Bacchae whet our lips. We’re definitely looking forward to a face full from Brief Hiatus over the autumn.
Brief Hiatus’ next play is The Revenger’s Tragedy by Thomas Middleton
21st – 23rd September at B.O.A.T.
Words by Mike Aiken
Photos by Tanya Cressey and Clementine Pointer