Faced with a bumper 160-page brochure and a packed What’s On section online, we provide our selection of some of the theatre highlights of this year’s Brighton Fringe. Running from May 4 to June 3, this year’s festival features over 4,000 performances across 155 venues, from local theatre companies and touring shows to new writing and old favourites, plus a selection of work coming out of Amsterdam Fringe.
This intriguing concept features one short play that is performed twice – by a mother, played by Syreeta Kumar, with her daughter, and by a father, played by Tom Dussek, with his son. Written by Craig Jordan-Baker, the two performances have been developed separately by directors Dodger Phillips and Rikki Tarascas. Set in a post-apocalyptic future where history is lost, it explores what we pass on to our children, whether they want it or not.
Rialto Theatre 10, 11, 12 May
Brighton Spiegeltent 28 May
Aged only 29, Martyn Hett was one of the victims of last year’s Manchester Arena bombing. Within hours of his death being announced, the hashtag #BeMoreMartyn took off on social media, inspiring people to embrace life and culture in the same way that this young man did. After an inaugural show at Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester, this piece of verbatim theatre explores why Martyn made such an impact on people’s lives and what it means to “be more Martyn”.
The Warren: Theatre Box 29, 30, 31 May, 1 June
Brainville At Night
To tie in with Dementia Awareness Week from May 21 to 27, The Dot Collective is bringing its new production of Alexander Moschos’s acclaimed play about dementia. Directed by Matthew Parker, it follows Ingrid on an adventure into a film noir-like world of memories and imagination. Featuring music, movement and projection, this promises to be “the most original love story you will see this year”.
The Warren: The Blockhouse 21, 22, 23 May
Purple Theatre will be premiering Boxes, a physical theatre piece with original urban music. It explores family, identity, race and gender through Toni and TJ, a brother and sister forced to examine their lives after the death of their father. Played by Lucienne Brown and Cairo Nevitt, they tick unusual boxes being GI babies of mixed race and dual nationality but the boxes they thought they fit nicely into are blown apart.
Purple Playhouse Theatre, 31 May, 1, 2, 3 June
A Glass Half Empty
This piece of new writing from Giggling Witch theatre company addresses the complicated female experience of ageing, beauty standards and the biological ticking clock. It follows Bea and Angela who, at 16, made a pact: no men, no marriage, no children. Now in their 30s, the pair reunite for one evening after 10 years of silence.
Sweet Werks 2 21, 22, 23, 24 May
Inspired by real-life stories of refugees, Gone is a fictional tale about the realities of hope and survival. It follows a family forced to flee their idyllic home when it comes under threat, embarking on a journey across bizarre and bewildering lands, risking their lives in search of safety. Told through puppetry, physical theatre and poetry, the show is interwoven with a score by Stone Flowers – a band made up of refugee and asylum seeker torture survivors supported by UK charities Freedom from Torture and Music Action International.
The Warren: The Blockhouse 5, 6 May
Hymns For Robots
This experimental piece, which premiered at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre last year, is inspired by the life of Delia Derbyshire, the previously unsung genius behind the Doctor Who theme tune and a trailblazer of electronic music. Noctium explores her life and music and the achievements of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, using strange sounds and weird “wobbulations” to create an incredible sonic experience. It mixes Noctium’s unique heightened performance style of drama, comedy and expressionism with use of analogue and digital music.
Rialto Theatre 7, 16, 17, 18 May
In the Heart of the Wasp’s Nest
Theatre-makers Karl Falconer and Natasha Ryan have enlisted some strong support for this new comedy drama from Til This Night, including Stephen Fry and Con O’Neill. Set in Liverpool, it follows the startling highs and lows of a team of technicians at a sixth-form college whose allegiances are tested when a colleague makes an allegation of sexual misconduct. It promises to be an explosive tale of gender, class and identity.
Brighton Spiegeltent: Bosco 7 May
Love in The Harbour by Eddie Alford
This love story set in World War I follows the lives of three Irish air aces of the Royal Flying Corps against the background of great upheaval and change. With dark humour and raw emotion, the fast-paced drama moves between Ireland and front-line France, with music and lyrics by Danielle Morgan and John Merrigan. On the centenary of the end of the Great War and the formation of the RAF, the play reminds us of the personal stories behind conflict that still endure today.
Rialto Theatre, 23, 24, 28, 29 May
Mixing dance music, rap and spoken word, Love Songs explores the personal and political puzzles of our love lives through the autobiographical poems of a hopeless romantic. It is a classic tale of classroom crushes and awkward bedroom encounters, a cautionary guidebook on navigating the millennial dating scene and a glimpse under the covers at our deepest desires and the all-consuming fear of ending up alone. This one-woman show is presented by Trip Hazards and features Alissa Anne Jeun Yi.
Laughing Horse at The Quadrant 12, 14 May
Mad About the Boy
This new play – with musical interludes – depicts an incident in the life of Noël Coward when he was auditioning actors for his latest Broadway production. One aspiring young actor really wants the role but is he prepared for the events that follow. It is written by Edwin Preece whose previous plays include Boy on a Bed.
Rialto Theatre 27 May, 3 June
Morning Is Red
Two soldiers lie wounded in hospital, sharing very different experiences of the trenches. One was shot on the first day of the war, the other on the last. As they become closer, a heart-breaking truth about them both gradually becomes apparent. This intimate, moving new play comes from the writer/director team of Nigel Fairs and Louise Jameson, presented in the atmospheric setting of the old police cells.
Old Police Cells Museum 10, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26, 31 May, 1, 2 June
Brian and Tom, together for 10 years, decide to become parents with the help of their friend as surrogate but, when Tom looks into the identity of his own biological parents, what he discovers threatens to turn their dream into a nightmare. This new play by Sean Denyer, a consultant in public health medicine, tells a gripping family story in the context of the rapidly advancing developments in genetics and screening. It is produced jointly by Acting Out and Blue Heart Theatre.
Sweet Works 1 21, 22, 23, 24 May
The UK tour of Theatre6’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s last novel comes to Brighton. Adapted by Kate McGregor and Stephanie Dale, it is filled with live music, drama, laughter and romance. Led by Ceri-Lyn Cissone as Anne, the cast features Matthew Atkins, Siobhán Gerrard, Indigo Griffiths, Jason Ryall and Lucinda Turner.
The Warren: The Hat 8, 9, 13, 14 May
Rum in the Gravy Boat
Fluid Motion Theatre Company stops off in Brighton on the tour of this new play which examines the experience of growing up with a parent who is addicted to alcohol. Playful and energetic yet moving and raw, it is a story about sexual awakenings, plastic microphones, an alcoholic mother and alopecia. It is based on the life of performer Leigh Johnstone and was developed through Fluid Motion’s autobiographical style, highlighting how theatre can make sense of the past.
The Warren: The Blockhouse 12, 12, 13 May
Shit-Faced Showtime: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The legendary Shit-Faced Shakespeare is back at Brighton Fringe for a sixth year, featuring one actor who performs while getting progressively smashed. This year, they are bringing Hamlet to The Warren across 14 nights but look out for this other all-singing, all-dancing, all-drinking show about Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz.
The Warren: The Hat 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 May
Based on the true story of a family from Bristol, Alan Williams’s new play from Bare-Faced Acting Company presents three generations of women who each fall pregnant at 18. As society’s morals evolve, each woman no longer needs painful secrets but does their new-found freedom help or hinder the choices they must still make?
Brighton Open Air Theatre 16 May