Brighton Fringe: Real Fringe Venues

Perhaps more than ever this year, the fringe venues on the true Fringe of Brighton Fringe beckon. With Caravanserai and the Brighton Spiegeltent offering to fill the central spaces of those larrger fringe hibs that form the default of Fringes as far afield as Edinburgh and Adelaide2, there have always been venues that could lay claim to being a more kosher kind of fringe. They are sometimes literally on the fringes of a city Fringe Festival, geographically speaking. They are in basements, art spaces, hotel rooms, houses, gardens and even the occasionally public lavatory.

This year those fringe fringe venues invite you to view work right out to the city limits and beyond.

Let’s start with an established Fringe venue (open year round) and pretty close to the city centre. Bom-Bane’s and its legendary host Jane Bom-Bane offers a home-sized venue for variety and good eating within easy distance of the Old Steiner, a shortish walk from the station and a gentle wander to and from the sea as well as The Village. Bom-Bane’s Mix and its family friendly version promise “an assorted mix of music, song, poetry, comedy, drama, mechanical millinery, multi-media & optional nosh.”

This year you can also enjoy theatre and performance on a houseboat. A shortish bus journey along the coast to Shoreham will bring you to Houseboat Varda where you can see Idle Women – scenes and songs exploring the lives of women on the waterways in WWII. As perfoming company Busylizzies tell us: “We’re thrilled to be performing on the houseboat Varda, in Shoreham-by-Sea. Varda is a one-hundred year old ferry which used to operate between Portsmouth and Gosport, since settling up in Shoreham it has been extended with coaches, fire engines and even an airplane. This special venue will be the backdrop of a magical evening of music and tales from the waterways answer to the land girls. The venue has a small bar serving drinks and snacks.”

Varda “is a houseboat with narrow and uneven walkways to access the performance space. (Sadly the venue is not accessible, if you have mobility issues or other access needs, please get in touch with us to discuss)”.

Shops and art galleries often play host to Fringe theatre and performance in Brighton and Conclave is an affordable art gallery and shop hosting several shows this year. Our pick of the three on offer (all look good) is Totally true. (Mostly.) “Brighton Fringe 2019 / 2021 People’s Choice Nominee, George Sawyer is back with more outlandish, absurd and traumatically hilarious stories that totally, definitely happened to him.”

A house (and a garden) born of the creative reaction of artists during Covid lockdown who would not be locked down (for long) is Lionhouse. With their own programme of shows, including an acclaimed cabaret (taking place at Brighton Open Air Theatre this year) and playing host to the award-winning The Foundry Group’s production of Lord God, this is a chance to experience quntessential fringe theatre and performance of the highest quality in a real home setting. There is also something for children in the form of Stories in the Garden: Atalanta the Adventurer from the mult0award-winning Actors of Dionysus.

These are just a few of the many unique fringe performance spaces on offer throughout the Brighton Fringe. We’ll add more as the month unfolds.