We spoke to Nicola Haydn, the artistic director of Otherplace Productions and co-mastermind behind The Basement and The Warren, to get her advice on the best shows to see at those venues this Fringe.
MUSIC: Mr Fogg: Youth
The Basement, May 6-10, various times, £9/£7.50
Is being labelled a genius by the NME a death knell for a musician? Not necessarily: the artist known as Mr Fogg has been involved in Radiohead’s new album, which sounds less surprising upon listening to the euphoric, hazy spirals of his own LP ‘Youth’, released worldwide (including by Rough Trade) next month. His latest work dabbles in delicate chamber arrangements rather than the electronica which was his previous signature, and the retrospectively tolerable Zane Lowe also considered Fogg a wondrous performer.
Nicky: “Live debut of a new project by the alt-pop genius and Thom Yorke strategist – unmissable.”
THEATRE: So It Goes
The Basement, May 8-10, £12/£10.50
Debuting in Edinburgh last year, this depiction of grief received a five-star review in The Times. While Guardian oracle Lyn Gardner called it “comic and heartbreaking”.
Nicky: “A hit at last year’s fringe, this is a co-production by Show and Tell and On The Run. It explores performer Hannah Moss’s loss of her father aged 17. It’s a topic she’s always wanted to talk about, but in the seven years since he died she hasn’t quite managed it. Now aged 25, she and her co-performer, David Ralfe, present 70 minutes of inventive, wordless storytelling, full of lo-fi charm.”
COMEDY: Red Brick
The Basement, May 9 and 30; The Warren, May 23, £11/£9.50
The quality control is always high at this comedy club, but the appointment of MC Sean McLoughlin, whose most recent tour was a brilliant-if-self-lacerating rumination on discontent in Brighton and beyond, seems a judicious one.
Nicky: “Our Saturday night Fringe comedy club returns with probably the best line-up yet. Every week we present three great comics and a compere in an intimate venue. Headliners include Lucy Beaumont who’s Victoria Wood-esque, and Felicity War an Aussie who’s brilliantly insane and insanely brilliant. The Pajama Men are flash-fast Americans, and Carl Donnelly is a laidback charmer.”
FAMILY: The Biggest Marionette Circus In The World
The Warren, May 10-17, 2pm, £9/£7.50
A bit of a coup: the Polish company Klinika Lalek Puppet Theatre, formed in 1988, is known for giant marionettes and open-air spectaculars.
Nicky: “Tickets are already selling fast – it’s set to be one of the most gorgeous spectacles at this year’s Fringe. Life-sized giraffe, elephant and lion marionettes will greet audiences in The Warren’s fairy-lit garden before leading them into the big top to watch a breathtaking puppetry show that should enchant all ages. The Biggest Marionette Circus In The World is a rare UK appearance from the company, and it shouldn’t be missed.”
THEATRE: Point And Shoot
The Warren, May 1, 14-16 and 31, £12/£10.50
A satire of the blockbuster business which toured Oz to winning effect last year.
Nicky: “It’s the year 2042 and Hollywood as we know it is dead. A washed-up producer sees a chance to revive the blockbuster franchises of his youth. But transferring ’60s sitcom Selma The Dutiful Housewife to the silver screen is a journey fraught with danger, intrigue and near-apocalyptic consequences. Robert Woods and Tyler Jacob Jones, an Australian writer and composer duo, give their beloved film industry an affectionate ribbing. It’s a frenetic and funny musical theatre romp with four performers, 16 instruments and more than 50 characters.”
MUSIC: Simply Soweto Encha
The Warren, May 21-25, various times, £10/£8.50
Returning after winning awards and a legion of new fans at The Warren last year, this a capella group have been such hard-tourers since their formation seven years ago that anyone with an unloved gym membership might consider accosting them for tips on how to bounce like the proverbial hyper-rabbit. They harmonise in western and African styles, specialising in doo-wop, jazz, soul, gospel and R’n’B. Ohh-woo-woo.
Nicky: “Unstoppable rhythm, invincible singing and daring dance.”
THEATRE: 4 Guys Chillin’
The Basement, May 22-25, 9.30pm, £10/£8.50
A new LGBT work, this exposé of the gay chillout scene encounters lines of meth and a certain flickable phone application. No surprise, then, that other works from the company have been favourably reviewed as “tremendously forceful” (chuckle).
Nicky: “Rude, frank and nude, this one is a graphic and gripping verbatim drama that takes audiences into the heart of the scene and its guys. Only suitable for over-18s, it offers an original look at a drug-fuelled, hedonistic and highly secret world of chem-sex, Grindr and instant gratification.
DANCE: Dance For Me
The Basement, May 24 and 25, 1.30pm, £11/£9.50
This dramatic collaboration between young directors/actors/choreographers Pétur Ármannsson and Brogan Davison won out at last year’s Icelandic Theatre Awards.
Nicky: “Putting a new spin on the idea of ‘dad-dancing’, Dance For Me is the real-life story of an Icelandic 49-year-old father-of-three who dared to realise his dream of performing contemporary dance on stage. Dance For Me was nominated twice in the Best Newcomer and Choreographer of the Year categories at the awards, and comes to Brighton as part of an international tour. We’d share some of the press quotes but, obviously, they’re all in Icelandic.”
LITERATURE: Demolition Of The Century
The Basement, May 24 and 25, 7.30pm, £11/£9.50
Duncan Sarkies appears following performances at the New Zealand Festival, Auckland Writers’ Festival, the Tauranga Arts Festival and the Nelson Arts Festival. Not content with losing his socks, suitcase, career, ex-wife and son, the protagonist is followed by “various shadowy figures”, including the demolisher of the most beautiful picture theatre in town.
Nicky: “He’s a screenwriter, playwright and novelist who’s worked on Flight Of The Conchords. With musician Joe Blossom – aka Sean O’Brien – he’s recreating the world from his new novel, The Demolition Of The Century. A humorous and sometimes heart-breaking look at families, memories and the human mind’s fragility.”
THEATRE: From The Cradle To The Bin
The Warren, May 29-31, 7.45pm, £11/£9.50
Naming their Bouffon season after a set of French people banished to a swamp, company A Ship of Fools are partly inspired to deal with our attitudes towards Huntington’s Disease and other terminal illnesses. Their clowning workshop, on May 29, is surely worth a go.
Nicky: “Mr Whitey has never had anything to complain about. But when his family send him to a nursing home, can he keep his optimistic attitude? They tickle with one hand while delivering a punch to the guts. The term Bouffon, defined by physical theatre guru Jacque Lecoq, is one of performance focused on the art of mockery.”
Words and photos (from the opening night of The Warren) by Ben Miller
This year The Warren in on the green by St Peter’s Church. The Basement is on Kensington St. Go here for more info.