From comedy and cabaret to dance, music and spoken word, Brighton Fringe festival is back for 2019 from 3 May to 2 June. As always, theatre plays a major part with something like 250 shows listed in the programme. We pick out some of the highlights among the new work debuting this year.
“All the world’s a stage”, according to Jaques in Shakespeare’s As You Like, and his lines about the “seven ages of man” have been re-interpreted in solo show Seven Ages of Mam. Viewing it through the eyes of a mother, it is written by Mark Evans with Pauline O’Driscoll contributing and starring. 2-5 May. Sweet Werks 1.
Performance artist Tommy, the Queer Historian, presents his latest show, How Disabled Are You?, in which he explores attitudes towards people who claim benefits and how rarely their voices are heard. Three disabled people on benefits take to the stage and read a script for the first time, with no performance experience. 3-4, 17-18 May. Junkyard Dogs: The Doghouse.
David Rees’ classic 1982 novel about growing up gay, The Milkman’s On His Way, is being brought to the stage by K-Squared Productions. The book, which was attacked during the Section 28 debate for promoting homosexuality to children, broke new ground with its positive depiction of a young man coming out as gay. 4-5, 9-12 May. The Old Courtroom.
Rowena Cooper was inspired by Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis for her comedy After Aulis. It explores the question of how far you should go to sacrifice yourself for those around you, following a sardonic self-obsessed adulterer played by Emmeline Braefield. 5-8 May. Laughing Horse @ The Quadrant.
People of a certain age will remember 1970s comedy star Yootha Joyce, best known as part of George and Mildred. Her life story is brought to the stage in touring show Testament of Yootha starring Caroline Burns Cooke who has written it with director Mark Farelly. 5-6, 10-11 May. The Warren: The Nest.
Theatre company Pole Vault, led by two Polish actresses, will present their new show F*ck Polite about a clash between two sisters, based on a true story. 8-11 May. The Warren: The Nest.
After hits with Joe Orton’s The Ruffian on the Stair and Kafka-inspired Apparatus, Blue Devil Productions will debut The Geminus, based on Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Sharer. Retold as a dark romance, it follows a lonely young sea captain who finds solace in an encounter with a handsome, enigmatic fugitive. Written and directed by Ross Dinwiddy, it stars John Black and Gareth Wildig. 8, 21-25 May. Rialto Theatre.
Friday Night Love Poem is the latest show from Crossline Theatre, which specialises in telling women’s stories. Written by co-founder Natalia Knowlton, it features three young women discovering sexual empowerment for the first time. 8, 11-12 May. The Warren: Theatre Box.
The tagline for Slipshod Theatre is, “We’re making history fun again”, and they are set to demonstrate this with their new show, Oleg Olenchenko Packs Up His Things. Set in eastern Ukraine in 2014, it explores what is fair in wartime through the story of a university student evicted from his home by a soldier claiming to be defending him from fascists. 9-13 May. The Warren: The Bunker.
After scoring a hit with John Peel’s Shed, John Osborne is premiering a new show for 2019, You’re in a Bad Way, which stops off in Brighton as part of a small tour. It follows two sisters who deal in very different ways with the news that their dad has dementia. 11-12 May. The Warren: The Blockhouse.
As part of a UK tour, Hags Ahoy will be coming to Brighton with their latest show, Right of Entitlement by Steven Todd who co-stars with Adrianna Paniak. Through the story of schoolgirl Cleo, it explores fairness, class, education and social mobility. 14-18 May. Rialto Theatre.
Theatre company Hitchhiker Collective will be presenting its latest show, Pulp, a new autobiographical piece exploring experience with grief, toxic masculinity and what it means to be a man. 15-19 May. The Warren: The Nest.
As part of the festival’s Nordic programme of shows, A Box in the Desert is a virtual-reality experience about being trapped inside an invisible box with a voice in your head helping you to get out, created by Icelandic group Huldufugl. Outside the box stands a guardian trying to convince you to stay safe from danger. Who do you trust as reality starts to break down? 17-18 May. The Old Market.
Other theatre highlights of this year’s Brighton Fringe include Bryony Kimmings’ acclaimed show, I’m a Phoenix, Bitch – her first solo show in nearly a decade. Combining personal stories with epic film, soundscapes and ethereal music, it explores motherhood, heartbreak and finding inner strength. 3-7 May. Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts.
Another fringe circuit hit coming to Brighton is A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) from Silent Uproar. This hilarious cabaret musical by Olivier Award-winning writer Jon Brittain explores depression with songs and glitter, reminding us that it’s OK not to be OK. It features music by Matthew Floyd Jones of cabaret veterans Frisky & Mannish. 7-12 May. The Warren: The Hat.
After the success of Shit-faced Shakespeare, where one member of the cast is in a state of inebriation, Magnificent Bastard Productions is bringing two of its shows to Brighton Fringe. Macbeth: 6-22 May. The Warren: The Hat. Oliver with a Twist: 23-30 May. The Warren: The Hat.
Cult TV series Murder She Wrote is given an entertaining new spin in Solve-along-a-Murder-She-Wrote, where amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher – played by super-fan and the show’s creator Tim Benzie – takes the audience through a classic episode, with games, prizes and lots of laughs. 8, 22 May. Komedia Studio.
A packed programme of children’s shows includes plays, circus, puppets and other entertainment for all ages. Much of it can be found inside Brighton Spiegeltent, especially its Bosco space, such as touring puppet show Kotuku and Moon Child and one of our favourites, Head First Acrobats, returning with their pirate-themed spectacle, Arr We There Yet?.
Read Part Two of Mark Ludmon’s Brighton Fringe Festival 2019 highlights.