Do you like zombies? If so, you will love the second Brighton Horrorfest which has just kicked off at Sweet Venues, in what used to be called Dukebox Theatre. But, as we discovered at the launch party, horror goes way beyond simple zombies.
So, what’s happening this year? Artistic director, J.D. Henshaw (aka ‘JD’), has curated a feast of performances, walking tours, interactive ‘gaming’ theatre, workshops, puppet making and storytelling. There’s even a séance. Events will run daytime or evening aimed at different age ranges – from adults to teenagers and young children (check the age guide).
JD sees the fest as “celebrating the stagecraft of doing this live” and “not relying on Hollywood decibels or effects”. He points out: “We have no trapdoors here!” He compares it to Dr Who: creating drama that appeals to all age groups.
Some events are heading towards the Brighton or Edinburgh Fringe. Take the work of London-based writer/director Chloe Mashite who is doing four different horror-themed shows. For years she’s been playing Dungeons and Dragons – ‘D&D’ to the initiated – and started integrating this into immersive theatre. “We love the ridiculous and fantastical side of it.” Audiences began making suggestions about the story and actors took this on. Rolling the dice makes the story unpredictable and random. Check out ‘Adventurers Wanted’ (by Total Party Kill).
Michele Donkin (artistic director of Cast Iron Theatre) – hosts a set of events: a live podcast, a showcase of local writers and actors, and a retelling of the Alien film as a woman’s quest for freedom. She says watch out for fancy dress and comedic spooky happenings. “If you’re dressed fab we might buy you a drink.” Spirits only.
Andrew Allen is no stranger to well crafted ghostly storytelling. He’s a familiar pro in a black cape leading walks around the Lanes. Meanwhile, ‘Father Of Lies’ (Bete Noir Productions) offers a spectacular and chilling exploration of the true murder story involving satanic cults and haunted priests in 1973 West Germany.
There’s a host of other ‘spooktacular’ shows – but what fascinates JD about horror? “99% of the supernatural can be explained – but what about the other 1%?”
Don’t look behind you!
Brighton Horrorfest at Sweet Venues, The Southern Belle, 17th – 29th October
Words by Mike Aiken
Photos by Peter Williams and Mike Aiken