Brighton Fringe 2013 – Predictably unpredictable

Nione Meakin

fringe 300x200 Brighton Fringe 2013 – Predictably unpredictable

(c) Dade Freeman, Krysalis Photography


Running alongside – but separate to – the programmed Brighton Festival that’s been a fixture of city life since the late Sixties, Brighton Fringe’s open-access policy attracts upwards of 700 shows made by local, national and international companies and features performers at every stage of their professional development. It eventually became an event in its own right; a registered charity in 2006 and has since grown into the largest mixed arts festival in England that takes over Britain’s favourite seaside city every May, offering everything from intimate theatre to classical orchestras and children’s workshops.

Brighton Fringe has hosted thousands of artists and venues over the years: from Stomp to Sir Peter Blake’s Art Bus; from Udderbelly to Stewart Lee; from the world’s smallest nightclub to a world record attempt at the biggest gathering of Kate Bush lookalikes; theatre in a toilet to circus on the seafront; discos for babies to octogenarian cabaret Brighton Fringe is predictable only in its unpredictability.

As this year’s four-week-long celebration gets into full swing, audiences are being invited to thieve Citizen Skwith’s playfully subversive street signs (“Keep off the greener grass”); watch theatre from the backseat of a parked car and hunker down in the old police cells for tales of nuclear Armageddon.

The local paper is running calls for an undertaker to lend a coffin for a show alongside details of ‘yoga-raves’, and a 6ft 4ish man in a blue rabbit suit has been spotted stalking the Old Steine where the roaming Spiegeltent has temporarily set up home. Last weekend, outside the city library, 100 metronomes created a mesmerising soundscape, and on a stage within a Citroën van, a man offered to cure people’s phobias.

On any one night audiences might see a piece of new writing by a boxfresh company (national creative network Ideastap has funded 10 such shows this year), the latest work by respected local names such as Trailblaze, Broken Leg or Two Bins or international acts such as Bianco by No Fit State circus or South African soap star Briony Horwitz. They might watch it in a disused coach station, on the street, in a church vestry – fly-by-night venues for fleeting and occasionally transformative experiences.

What they won’t see is something they could see any other time of the year. May is an enchanted month in Brighton – the wise will make the most of it.

Five Fun Fringe Facts

- There are more than 200 venues listed in this year’s programme. Over the years these have included a public toilet, a bus and audiences’ bedrooms.

- Audiences have been invited to learn taxidermy, eat exploding jellies and attend a séance.

- Brighton Fringe Managing Director Julian Caddy lists tap-dancing and acting as body double for Daniel Craig’s James Bond among his talents.

- The youngest Brighton Fringe 2013 performer is two years old, his art work can be seen on one of the doors in Jane Bom-Bane’s crossword themed house.

- Participants come from all over the world. This year’s programme includes shows from South Africa, Australia, France, Poland and Italy.

Brighton Fringe 2013 dates: 4 May – 2 June

Full programme available on

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  • Martin Sadofski

    Go see ROAD! brilliant! and so topical now after thatcher died. Very funny play.

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