Theatre forms a huge part of the Fringe, second only to comedy. We’ll be adding recommendations, previews and interviews each day so bookmark this page is you are a fan of theatre at the Brighton Fringe.
The recommendations here are primarily plays, solo theatre shows, new writing and physical theatre. These are the must-sees.
Our opening list of theatre recommendations
Reviewer Strat Mastoris offers his top ten recommendations at the start of the Fringe…
My Fringe top ten choices…
There’s a vast amount of stuff on offer during Brighton Fringe. In 2016 I saw seventeen productions, and this year I’m booked to see almost twenty. That’s an awful lot of reviews to write. By which I mean a great number, not that the reviews will be awful (hopefully!) – see how careful you have to be when you’re trying to communicate something about a show …
So how do I choose what to go and see, out of the literally hundreds of shows on offer? I’ve got two main criteria –
First: Does the production ‘smell’ good – does the subject matter grip me? Is it going to be a radical new way of looking at something, or might it be an intriguing new re-imagining of a well-known piece of Shakespeare or Classical Greek theatre?
Second: Do I trust the company? I’m more likely to commit an evening to a company who’ve already delivered the goods in a previous year.
So here’s my top ten choices for 2017 Fringe – not in any particular order.
MacBlair – at the Warren. The rise of Tony Blair, done as an updating of ’Macbeth’, complete with a trio of political journalists as The Witches. Anything linking Blair with the forces of darkness has to be irresistible.
Wacht – Sweet Waterfront. A great feature of Fringe is that we get exposed to material from other countries and festivals. ‘Wacht’ comes via the Amsterdam Fringe, and features a bored museum guard, who goes looking for adventure. It’s a solo performance, and it sounds like it will be … different.
The Writers’ Bloc – at Rialto Theatre. Soviet Russia, 1937. Stalin places five great writers in a room with an infinite supply of vodka, cigarettes and fear. Rialto put on a lot of political pieces – two years ago I saw a mesmerising one-woman show about Stalin’s daughter – so I have great hopes for this one.
Agamemnon – at The Warren. Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, returns from the Trojan War in triumph, only to be butchered by his wife Clytemnestra. But he had previously sacrificed their daughter – nice family, eh? A group of younger actors promise to put a lot of energy into Steven Berkoff’s modern rewriting of a Greek classic.
Gratiano – at Rialto Theatre. More politics, more history, more Shakespeare. This one links twentieth century prejudice in Mussolini’s fascist Italy with Shakespeare‘s ‘The Merchant of Venice’. I wouldn’t miss this one because the company doing it – Grist To The Mill – did an unforgettable show last year, ‘The Unknown Soldier’.
Actually, they’re putting that one on this year too, as well as ‘The Empress And Me’ (all at Rialto), so there’s two more I’d recommend.
Undercover Refugee – at The Warren. This one is right up to the minute. A Norwegian documentary maker / actor travelled with Syrian refugees, from their landfall on a Greek island, right across Europe. These are lives we read horror stories about every day in the newspapers – hopefully this production will look a little deeper.
Scorched – at Rialto Theatre. Memories of the desert campaigns in World war Two, told by an ageing veteran in a rest home. I’ve heard great things about the power of this production – “the best thing we saw in Edinburgh”
Ensonglopedia of Science – at The Old Courtroom. There’s no way I’d miss a John Hinton event. I saw his very funny (and very informative) production about Einstein a few years ago, and subsequently was knocked out by his Marie Curie show. I say ‘show’ in the widest sense – he mixes proper, peer-reviewed science with witty songs, and music from his partner (now his wife) Jo.
A Remarkable Person – at Sweet St Andrews. This production seems to be about the human need for an identity. It’s from a Norwegian company, so hopefully we can expect a different perspective on society. The Fringe brochure says it’s very funny – and to be honest I like the poster image. Sometimes that’s enough to hook me.
She Denied Nothing – at Exeter Street Hall. This is an updating of Sophocles’ ‘Antigone’, set in a contemporary military hospital. Sounds intriguing – but the main attraction for me is that it’s being done by Actors of Dionysus, whose work I admire hugely. I saw ‘Helen’, their updating of Helen of Troy, at last year’s Fringe, and I was mesmerised by the ravishing lighting and the sensuous aerial ballet using silks. I have great hopes for this one.
So there you are. Ten shows – well, twelve actually. I’ve probably missed out real gems that will turn up in this year’s Fringe, and some of you will see them instead. I’ll be jealous of your good luck – but there’s always next year …
We’ll be updating this list and adding links as reviews come in throughout the Fringe