Brighton Fringe

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Brighton Fringe 2017

27 Wagons Full of Cotton

Fox and Hound Theatre Company’s trio of Tennessee Williams are a must-see. Not just because they premiere the 1981 Ivan’s Widow adding the 1953 Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen but the gem: 27 Wagons Full of Cotton from 1946. already famed for a Edinburgh Fringe sell-out. A superb piece superbly played.


According to Angelica

‘It’s about this nurse.’ Angelica, former nurse to the Capulets sets out her moonlight vegetables quite literally. The essential point is that’s it a fascinating take, and a compelling story.


Bethnal Green

A harrowing recount of terrible tragedy on 3rd March 1943, when 173 men, women, and children were crushed to death on an East End air raid shelter.


Blindfold: The Night of the Hunt

Four actors led by writer/director Sofia Stavrakaki enact what’s clearly a prison of a circus, people forced to perform a ritual of trouping for the delectation of a whip-cracking elite. A summary hardly does justice to the atmosphere this production evokes or the meta-language burning through the glares of hallucinated prey. You’ll know whether it’s for you if you like Beckett or European theatre


Blink

This is the most affecting bittersweet piece of theatre seen at the Fringe for a while and a masterly play. That Hall and Lacey invest it with such pathos humour and delicacy whilst working to pinpoint direction is equally winning, equally devastating and makes you dream sequels. It’s a must-see.


Blocked

It’s as if Billie Piper’s Yerma does stand-up. Caroline Byrne’s Blocked reveals a writer whose images stamp a scream-out-loud theatre drawn into an arc of devastation. Curnick inhabits a performer’s meltdown from a technique and emotional agency as strong as… a recording black box. Why? Find out. Superb theatre.


Blooming

It’s not a sequel to Patrick Sanford’s award-winning Groomed. Blooming’s an outstanding work still developing, but judging by Sandford’s original deployment of images and the interaction between performers, it’s becoming a definitive statement. There’s much to discover, especially for many at the Q&A. If you care for the human condition, you must see this.


Bug Camp

Paul Macauley’s garnered outstanding praise and Bug Camp adds to his reputation. All four cast give exemplary performances though Douetil and Spencer hit a top register of something teetering on tragedy, laughing over an abyss.


Eglantyne

What’s in this name? Eglantyne means a prickly rose and smells by any name bittersweet. Founder of Save the Children who burned herself out in its service. This is enlightening and moving in equal measure, not only rendering a great service, but asking after Eglantyne Jebb’s breath-taking leaps of empathy, how far we’ve come since.


Fall of Duty

Not so much another First War narrative but a parallel rediscovery of singalong music, song and dance, stars and tears in their eyes. Tightness of video, the engagement of audience and extremely well-counterpointed denouement makes this a memorable show. And did I mention the Childs can sing?


How to Walk Through Hell

When an author entitles her experiences in How to Walk Through Hell as based on her own, you might wonder if we’re close to stories of abuse and terror. Yes, the abuse is a virus. Lyme disease. The acting of both Sam Wright and Kizzie Kay is exemplary, some of the finest naturalistic acting seen on the Fringe this year, indeed consummately professional.


Mary and Me

A near masterclass of solo performance, based on emerging new writing.


Mobile

Fringe theatre at its best. A unique intimate experience with outstanding production values.


Model Organisms

Donkin’s artistry as writer isn’t in doubt, and Newton-Mountney’s performance is compelling. This is eminently worth seeing especially if you like dystopian narratives of the possible near-present. The story’s complete, but this journey’s just begun.


Octopus

A forthright political performance that pulls no punches


Pals

It’s not been done like this before. This play fully deserves its accolades. Though we associate the First War Pals Battalions with the north (the Accrington for instance) this show localises it to every community it tours.


Protect and Survive

Imagine it’s three minutes to midnight before a nuclear winter. And that’s slipped on January 26th this year to two-and-a-half. Jonathan Williamson’s created a laconic take on the old 1970s-80s nuclear holocaust warnings.


Richard III

This is an outstanding distillation of an exceptionally prolix if often brilliant early Shakespeare history drama. It could not really be executed more compellingly.


Sex Education

A filthy, funny and moving story of sexual exploration


Sleeping Trees: Sci-fi?

Rollicking furiously paced exquisitely skilled physical comedy


The Cocktail Pianist

The Cocktail Pianist is ultimately radiant with self-knowledge. Hatchard is a phenomenally gifted pianist even on an electric keyboard. His touch, mercurial dispatch are not of the medley kind. A first rate show with enduring things to say, it’s also a comment on how we treat our gifts and they us.


The Effect

A superb way to get to know a superb play. It’s difficult to conclude anything but a kind of dopamine’s got into BLT recently; perhaps we absorb it there too. Everything they touch is enhanced, there’s a uniform excellence of cast and production here that’d look perfectly in situ in any off-West End theatre.


The Elephant Girls

It’s history, so believe it. For over a century an all-woman gang marauded London from Elephant and Castle. Margo MacDonald’s explosive one-woman play which she both wrote and acts in, asks what you might expect in a series of evenings with Maggie Hale, an amalgam of two Maggie Hs, in 1937. MacDonald’s riveting throughout, rasping her laments, lusts and long views to the dogged interlocutor. A superb performance of a remarkable play and subject, whatever its provenance.


The Forecast

The Forecast is an unforgettable experience on many levels - a horrifying, yet ultimately hopeful story about a future that is already pulling into the driveway


The Missing Special

It’s all in the maths obsession. Think Nick Payne’s Constellations with a tighter focus on one event and its outfall and rewind. It’s a clever but also heartening play, which also asks what time does to two individuals who dream of the one direction but wake up without interpreting each others’ dreams, or finding when they do they’re different. And what to do.


Tina C’s President -C

Witty, wonderful and warming politics meets drag queen meets country singer...in a tent on an intersection.


Trainspotting

Startling immersive stage production of the classic film; Fast, furious, stomach churning, shocking and gritty.


Underworlds

Different Theatre