Political theatre and art making is often woefully lacking at Fringe festivals. I have always assumed and hoped that the Arts is a disruptive influence on politics in society. Sadly not. Once again there are very fews shows attempting to explore and address political questions, let alone disrupt or protest.
But there are a few…
You might want to start with a political classic, a staple of the socialist agit-prop theatre that burst forth after the Second World War and peaked in the 1970s. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists which explores issues of the down-trodden working classes, comes as a solo Magic Lantern show to The Old Courtroom. “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.”
Biiled as “a show about freedom, loss and identity with elements of mime and physical theatre”, this physical=clown theatre piece premiered at the 2018 Avignon Theatre Festival. “June 2016. A few days before the Brexit referendum. A father and son debate their stance on the vote. They are united in blood but divided in spirit. The two characters argue their respective positions while digressing on the essence of what being British and European really means to them. The debate turns from surreal to grotesque until both of them cast their vote…”
You’ll also find some political comedians at the Fringe (Phew). Take a look at hard-hitting Joe Wells, who has written for Have I Got News for You?
A worhsop called Documents, Documentation and the Post-Truth Era also looks very interesting, delivered by Abhishek Thapar at Sweetwerks. “A workshop which re-investigates the status and function of “documentation” responding to the urgent post-truth era in documentary theatre formats. What is the function of the theatrical space in the times we live in now? How do we approach and understand “production of truth”? This workshop uses storytelling, autobiographical material and documents to re-investigate the fine lines between fact and fiction, truth and lie, personal and political.”
For some free and usually sharp observational and political stand-up head over to Laughing Horse at the Caroline of Brunswick for Jay Sodagar (The Very Best of).
Finally, political thinker, and influencer in the equality/inequality debate, Danny Dorling brings Danny Dorling: Rule Britannia, Brexit and the End of Empire to the Komedia Studio.
Dorling “argues that sorting ourselves out post-Brexit is going to require a great deal of introspection, that what we see may not be pleasant. And that Brexit – however it comes – may be part of the cure. Author of ‘Peak Inequality’ and increasingly heard on TV and radio his work reveals the shameful and widening gap between rich and poor in contemporary Britain. Authoritative, insightful and entertaining.”
I’ll add more recommendations if and as I discover them. Not easy when politics is so lacking at the Fringe Kudos to the quality few who have brought it to us this year.
Here is our full Brighton Fringe coverage.