Biggest year ever ahead for Brighton Fringe

Julian Caddy
Julian Caddy

A record-breaking 970 shows and events, including more than 300 world premieres, 100 international shows and the first-ever Fringe City week days, feature in the Brighton Fringe’s 2017 programme.

Offerings from the 260-strong theatre programme include the world premiere of Blooming (May 19-21 and 25-27), Patrick Sandford’s take on experiences of happiness, following his hit show Groomed, which won three Brighton Fringe theatre awards in 2016. Comedy writer John Osborne (creator of John Peel’s Shed and Sky 1’s After Hours) returns with Circled in the Radio Times (May 26, 27-29), and We Are Ian (May 31 and June 1), a homage to acid house, which won the Brighton Fringe Award for Excellence at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, makes its Brighton debut.

Trygve Wakenshaw returns with a double-bill, brand-new show Odjo: King of the Ocean (May 5, 12, 19 and 26) and the 2016 Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominated show Nautilus (June 1 and 2). The UK premiere of Rob van Vuuren’s horror-comedy Dangled (May 22-23 and 29-30), which won the Cape Town Fringe Festival’s Audience Choice Award, will also be staged.

There are 320 comedy shows including stand-up and magic from Jerry Sadowitz (June 2-3). Scott Gibson, winner of the 2016 Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Newcomer, performs Life After Death (May 12-14), a darkly-hysterical account of living through a brain haemorrhage. Owen Roberts, one-third of Beasts, premieres a brand-new show The Man Who Ate Too Many Raisins (May 13-14). Boogaloo Stu’s Last Orders at The Dog & Dumplings (May 10-11), a merciless exposé of regeneration, makes its Brighton Fringe debut. Up-and-coming comedians Samantha Baines (May 6-7 and 20-21), Tez Ilyas (May 15-17), Sophie Willan (May 20-21) and Zach Zucker (May 12-14) will also perform.

This year’s WINDOW programme, ten new shows selected by industry experts, includes Focus Group (May 7), inspired by cult US writer David Foster Wallace. Also in WINDOW is Shell Shock (May 5-7) featuring up-and-coming Sussex actor Tom Page, adapted from a novel by Iraq veteran Neil Watkin, which is supported by the Sussex Armed Forces Network and Help For Heroes.

The dance programme features Trade Winds (May 25-28, 30-31 and June 1-4), an evocative performance that mixes animation, dance and water, which comes to major new Brighton Fringe venue Shiny Town at the Royal Pavilion Gardens. The Dance Trail (May 5-7), a collection of new works by local artists exploring borders, barriers and belonging, will be staged along the boundary between Brighton and Hove during opening weekend.

Performance-artist David Hoyle (May 11) heads up the cabaret and circus programme.

Julian Caddy, managing director of Brighton Fringe, said: “I’m delighted to see that Brighton Fringe is larger than ever but it’s important to understand why, and why it’s relevant to you. The arts should be open to everyone, not an exclusive preserve of the few, so the open-access platform that Brighton Fringe provides is a vital support for what is a universal means of self-expression. We are a small local charity that works year-round to help people to produce creative work, whether it be through the extensive, free, Fringe Academy workshops, over £25,000 in financial support in the form of bursaries, free registrations for award-winners and facilitating touring for local people to tour across the UK and abroad and foreign artists to come to Brighton & Hove. But in the end, it’s about having a good time; whatever you’re into, you are likely to find it at Brighton Fringe. It’s your festival and I can’t wait to experience it with you.”

May 5 to June 4; Visit www.brightonfringe.org.