Brighton Fringe is back in full gear after two years of Covid lockdowns. There are plenty of films, exhibitions, tours, gigs, workshops and more kicking off from May 6th to June 5th. But if you’re looking for theatre and drama featuring local talent, here are a few tips to get you going.
A skim through the Fringe daily diary reveals that weekends are definitely the busiest with 41 plays on Saturday 21st and 44 more on Sunday 29th. And, if you want to have a theatrical orgy, check out the 67 theatre events during the weekend of May 13th – 15th! During the week you could take a risk on turning up and buying a ticket on spec. At SOURCE, we can’t cover every show but here are few for starters.
The Rialto has a reputation for curating and staging high class drama in a cosy venue. Many of us were knocked out a few years back by Caitlin (a one-woman show about Dylan Thomas’s wife) so get your tickets quick. At the same venue Underdogs, God of Carnage, Jo Neary, Laurel Hardy, SOE and others promise to light up your evening.
SOURCE has already revealed something of Betsy: Wisdom of a Brighton Whore, which has been a highly acclaimed (and usually a sell-out show) performed in the Brighton Fishing Museum by local, actress Isabella McCarthy Sommerville (see our review here).
Meanwhile, Reach for the Lasers, a debut play – written by local lad Stephen Bowen and directed by Gemma Hoare – follows the high octane downward spiral of a man who doesn’t know when the drum and bass should end. But watch out for existential dread from the voices of his past. Follow his demise for three nights (6th – 8th May) at Sweet @ The Poets.
We’ve previously featured the superb skateboard version of Romeo and Juliet (from the main festival) – performed sensationally outdoors in Hollingdean Skate Park. It returns this year with over 50 young people from Windmill Young Actors, directed by Tanushka Marah. Nearly sold out already!
For smaller, and more intimate theatre, why not try To Be Men (19th – 21st May). This is a dark engaging comedy set in rural Northern Ireland where Donal, returning from England, starts to re-discover his hometown. It’s performed at the back of the funky Presuming Ed cafe in London Road. A one-person premiere from Pebble Trust nominee Weeman Theatre.
Want to try out a couple of classy shows at New Venture Theatre? Cock by Mike Bartlett is boy meets girl but with no props. It promises to be taut, spare and strictly adults only. Meanwhile, Consent by Nina Raine and directed by the inimitable Scott Roberts, explores vengeance and justice, unapologetic and with victims’ impact statements. Empathy is hard to find.
If you can dare step outside Brighton during the festival, check the classic family friendly shows performed in May and June by This Is My Theatre – a local troupe that collaborates with various charities and privately owned venues to offer communities high quality, local theatre, especially in rural locations, in and beyond Sussex.
Moving from theatre to storytelling, on the 7th May, Jon Mason is putting on The Radical History Tour! A People’s History of Brighton & Hove. We recently covered one of his epic storytelling events here.
For children (4 – 8 years) why not try Stories in the Garden? Join Tess the Story Archaeologist, and her intrepid sidekick Mark for magical adventure! It promises to be full of bubbles, and puppet madness for an engaged audience in the Lionhouse venue in St Luke’s Road, near Queen’s Park!
Meanwhile, back in town, Brighton Open Air Theatre continues its eclectic range of music, adult plays, family shows and adventurous theatre throughout the festival in a friendly outdoor venue. We spotted Team Buja, a dance crew from Burundi, and Bonny and Read a musical play where two women disguise themselves as men, go out to sea, and join the male-dominated world of piracy. The Spirit of Woodstock from Something Underground Theatre maintains its appeal as a one-man outdoor show featuring that most famous of festivals (see our previous review here). Take a brolly in case it rains!
This is a quick taster of some great theatre aimed at different audiences. Take your pick. Jump in.