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Brighton Fringe: Museums and cafes and bathtubs, oh my!

Nione Meakin

and no birds sing Theatre brochure image 258x300 Brighton Fringe: Museums and cafes and bathtubs, oh my! The phrase ‘site-specific’ is in danger of becoming as overused in Fringe programmes as ‘locally-sourced’ is on menus, and nearly as open to interpretation.

Just as it’s hard to define how local is local, so it can be problematic to justify the terms of site-specific. But for my money, it certainly isn’t just about theatre that takes place outside a theatre. The location should add something to the way one experiences a work or, even better, be integral to it.

It’s for these reasons I’m excited about And No Birds Sing, an interactive promenade performance within Brighton’s Booth Museum, an eerie collection of stuffed bears, mounted butterflies and other macabre Victoriana.
The museum has often struck me as the perfect setting for something (generally my thoughts turn to horror films) and it seems I wasn’t alone. Promising specially created visuals and soundscapes, the show promises a unique opportunity to see this city treasure in a new light.

In Kemp Town, real-life café Metrodeco has turned into the set for (wait for it) The Café, a drama that explores themes of political discontent and class divide through the microcosm of a struggling business. Enticing slabs of Victoria sponge become a metaphor for consumer greed, while the manager’s habit of adding extra coffees on to customers’ tabs will ring bells with anyone who’s ever had a credit card. Somewhat ironically, Metrodeco is doing a roaring trade in cake.

Jane Bom-Bane’s House offers another cunning wheeze to get fed and entertained simultaneously and couldn’t be much more site-specific. The eccentric George Street café with its singing waitresses and tables with all manner of automata within is a secret Brightonians generally like to keep to themselves. But the chance to explore Jane’s tiny, magical house above shouldn’t be missed. We were sworn to secrecy as to what happens as you follow Jane up the stairs, but let’s just say it involved bath-tubs, maracas and a guitar serenade from stand-up Rich Hall. And again – delicious cakes, served in a truly memorable fashion.

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