It’s Brighton Festival and Fringe time again – for me the best time of the year to be in town. You can’t walk down New Road without tripping over people handing out flyers for their alternative cabaret/theatre/comedy shows, many of them in eye-catching outfits. But with so much on, from the Warren to the Spiegeltent and beyond, how do you choose what to see this May?
Brighton Festival runs from 5-27 May while the Fringe has an extra week, running until 3 June this year. Together they are one of the largest arts festivals in the country, second only to Edinburgh as a place to try out new material and premiere exciting new shows. There are a handful of sites which post daily reviews including Broadway Baby, Fringe Review and Fringe Guru.
Last weekend I sampled shows at the Warren, the Brunswick and the Spiegeltent, all in 24 hours! While I’d booked for two of the shows weeks in advance, the comedy show on Saturday afternoon was a spur of the moment decision. The Warren was packed with lots of people taking advantage of the gorgeous weekend weather to enjoy a drink outdoors before the show. It’s a compact site with four small venues – a little warm on a hot day like Saturday but ok for the hour which most shows run. I saw ‘It’s Gameshow Time!’ which was a little surreal and heavy on audience participation. It kept me guessing all the way through as to what would happen next!
After dinner I wandered along to the Brunswick which is a pub/music venue in Hove. Samba from Bloco Branco was on the menu and the hour show whizzed past – as a former drummer in a samba band it made me want to take it up again! They have another gig on 25 May so don’t miss their blend of traditional samba beats to make you feel (a little) like you’re in a club in Brazil.
Herbie’s Jazz Breakfast is a Brighton institution – together with his extremely talented band Herbie Flowers takes to the stage for a jazz jam with a different playlist every time. Expect everything from Harry Nilsson to Henry Mancini. The band clearly love playing together and the two hours didn’t seem long enough – Herbie is playing the same time for the next four Sundays from 11am-1pm at the Spiegeltent – at other times of year you can catch him at the Brighton Dome.
Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to Brighton later this month to see some Artist’s Open Houses and maybe another show or two – I’d love to hear your recommendations!