Classic Writers and Theatre at Brighton Fringe 2019

 Bitesize Chekhov

If you are looking for classic writers and plays at Brighton Fringe, there are plenty to choose from this year. From modern to ancient, I am impressed with some of the offerings. Some are new on the Fringe, others are making a return, and more than a few are stopping off from other Fringes, particularly (not surprisingly, the Edinburgh Fringe.

Chekhov is on show in the form of three one-act plays all presented within one hour. Bitesize Chekhov. Animate present some of the writer’s lesser-known works to a 21st century audience.

‘The Dangers Of Tobacco’ – a man’s fragile self-esteem is unpicked whilst giving a public lecture.
‘The Proposal’ – a hypochondriac attempts to woo a less than appealing maiden.
‘Swan Song’ – the tragic tale of an ageing actor as he comes to terms with the end of his career, and indeed, life.”

 The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

Most fringe festivals have a version or two of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and you might want to take a punt on Townsend Productions’ version at The Old Courtroom. The company was described by the Observer as ‘A Company making a name for delivering, vivid politically committed theatre’. “Neil Gore brings this witty, humorous and absorbing classic book to life in his one-man Magic Lantern show. Based on the famous book by Robert Tressell, it features political conjuring, music and songs echoing life in the building trades of Edwardian England.”

Brighton Open Air Theatre (BOAT) is the perfect venue for All Greek to Me’s version of The Odyssey. The production is billed as a “new visceral, physical adaptation of Homer’s exciting adventure story of homecoming with gods, monsters and the hope for forgiveness.” Of all the ancient plays to take the whole family too, this story packs more adventure and less eye-removal. Bring a picnic and a blanket or two.


For a solo Shakespeare, you can’t go wrong with OddbodiesKing Lear at the Warren. The production which is billed as a world premiere, is adapted and performed by Paul Morel. “Armed with only a drum, guitar, knife and chair, this inventive, irreverent and highly accessible one-man adaptation of King Lear is presented from the point of view of his long suffering and ever-loyal fool. The bastard Edmund, haughty Goneril, poor deluded Gloucester, oily Oswald, sweet Cordelia, mad Tom – all the characters from this sad and sorry tale brought to glorious life before your very eyes.”

 The Death of Ivan Ilyich

Rare at the fringe is The Death of Ivan Ilyich. award-winners Unmasked Theatre offer a modern version od Leo Tolstoy’s classic at the Rialto Theatre. We are promised ” haunting live sound and sharp prose.” This lesser known work is described as follows: “Ivan Ilych doesn’t give dying a passing thought. He’s had a nice life. But one day, death announces itself to him and, to his huge surprise, he is brought face to face with his own mortality. An exploration of the life un-lived, Unmasked Theatre presents a modern, highly physical adaptation of Tolstoy’s lesser known masterpiece.”

Bed Among the Lentils is an offering of one of Alan Bennet’s works this year. “ne of the best known of this series, ‘Bed Among the Lentils’ features Susan, a frustrated vicaOr’s wife with a fondness for sherry, who distracts herself from her ambitious husband and his doting parishioners by conducting an affair with a local grocer, Ramesh Ramesh.”

Finally, lovers of Alan Ayckbourn can choose between Alan Ayckbourn’s Double Bill – “Back-to-back performances of two of Alan Ayckbourn’s shortest plays. ‘A Cut in the Rates’ is a turbulent journey of intrigue, with a wicked twist in the tale. ‘Mother Figure’ is a laugh-out-loud play about an over-worked mother who treats her nosey neighbours as small children, literally.” Or there us also ‘No Knowing’ – “one of Ayckbourn’s newest plays, only previously performed in Scarborough. Both offerings are from Barnes Community Players and both are at Sweetwerks.

I’ll be adding more recommendations as the Fringe approaches.

Paul Levy

Here is our full Brighton Fringe coverage.