Brighton Fringe 2008
Venue: Komedia Brighton
Festival: Brighton Fringe
A jaunt around Brighton city centre in search of a mysterious missing person…
The press release for this piece of “urban theatre” promised to turn the city into a place of “danger” and “adventure”, an extremely intriguing proposition I think you’ll agree. Participants are handed a pink carnation at the foyer of the Komedia and instructed to make a phone call in which they are directed to a café in North Laines.
There you are given a character, Charlie or Sadie depending on your gender, both hedonists who left a trail of carnage and broken hearts before mysteriously disappearing. Your job is to piece together the identities of this pair by interpreting clues left in a bundle of newspaper clippings following a trail of pink carnations planted across the city and documenting the journey with a disposable camera (the photos are to be compiled for an exhibition at the end of the Festival).
This kind of scavenger hunt for adults then directs one around Brighton city centre criss-crossing North Laines and the sea front, visiting bars, shops and cafes. It sounds great, doesn’t it? For the first hour it was quite captivating. Mocking-up the photos and interacting with the slightly puzzled looking shopkeepers and bar staff- all part of the journey- was very entertaining. However, the lack of direction and suspense within the narrative really affected the flow and enjoyment of the piece.
Participants are given a chunk of the narrative at the beginning then tiny fragments, which they are left to work out for themselves.
While this idea of the audience being forced to work out story made for an interactive experience and reversed the dynamic of the normal theatre experience, a little more help along the way wouldn’t have gone amiss. The large number of locations on the hunt became a bit of a problem – this reviewer encountered some weary looking pink carnations wearers while walking around the city. When the pay-off came the feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment was slightly dulled by fatigue.
This was an intriguing and novel premise and you cannot fault the concept for ambition. It was also a pleasant way to spend an afternoon exploring the city, but it suffered in the quite protracted execution. It is very important to note that the groups that took part in Exposures on this opening day were the guinea pigs and with some inevitable refinements and a little more direction this project could realise it’s potential as an extremely involving piece of theatre. It definitely produce some very interesting photos…