This year is the Brighton Fringe Festival’s fifth anniversary, and it’s back and bigger than ever! Setting out to “stimulate, educate and entertain a wide audience by providing a showcase for diverse art forms”, the festival now boasts the accolade of third largest fringe in the world.
From the 7 to 30 May Brighton’s theatres, clubs, bars, parks, shops and even homes will host a wide variety of events. Running alongside Brighton Festival, the Fringe provides a platform for artists of any medium, generating a rich mix of music, comedy, film, dance and more.
In contrast to the main festival, which selects and hires its performers, the Fringe has an open-access policy, so with no selection criteria for participants, anyone is free to put on an event. The Fringe has been running in various forms since the birth of Brighton Festival in 1967, but it wasn’t until 2006 that it became entirely independent.
So what’s on this year? Those looking for a laugh should ‘Small Space’, a “poignant and funny” performance centred around personal storytelling. For the more serious, intimate play ‘This is Just to Say’ covers manipulation, Britishness, love and winning. On the quirkier side of things, why not take a peek through Oxfam’s shop window to see ‘Front’, a play about a couple’s relationship, or call into Komedia to catch ‘The Woods’, an evening of puppetry and surprises which sees the venue turned into a forest?
For music lovers there’s plenty on offer: Reggae fans can see the “highly regarded” ‘Roots Garden Rhythm Force Live Showcase’, bringing you UK Dub and Reggae producer Nick Manasseh along with Bob Skeng, Ras Zacharri, Dark Angel and support act Resonators. For something more flamboyant, two of Brighton’s biggest club nights, Carnivalesque and Balkaneasca, are coming together for an Ali-Baba and the Forty Thieves-themed night with live acts and a belly-dance workshop. Those looking for something more relaxed can catch some Folk in the form of singer-songwriter Martha Tilston or enjoy tea and scones on the beach to the jazzy sound of ‘The Swing Thing inc. Tea Dance’.
The open-access nature of the Fringe attracts all kinds of weird and wonderful performances. More unusual shows include ‘Anima’, a physical theatre, piece inspired by light, called “dreamlike as well as surreal” by the Guardian and ‘Genteel Tipple Through Gin in Literature’, an hour of extracts from gin-inspired literature. There’s even room for a circus: the ‘Netherlands National Circus’ puts a Dutch spin on a distinctly English tradition, comprising clowns, acrobats and illusions.