Brighton Fringe 2017 is bigger than ever, with 970 events across 155 venues. EDWIN GILSON previews the cultural feast.

THERE are few more welcome sights in Brighton than the Spiegeltent being erected on the Old Steine. Its arrival signifies a few distinct yet interlinked things; hazy summer days, a vibrant atmosphere and, most importantly, a month of cultural goodness. The much-loved hub of Brighton Fringe hosts a range of events every year as well as acting as a pit stop for people enjoying the widespread [geographically and artistically] festival programme.

The start of the festivities, May 5, will be upon us before we know it, and the Guide is here to help you sift through the events and make your pick. It can be hard to know what to go for in such a packed schedule but you can rest assured it’s never going to be dull.

Window shows

This special programme of events is selected by an expert arts panel. The shows that make it onto the shortlist are all hotlytipped, with the panel anticipating them to go on to big things in the near future. A handful of the productions chosen this year are previewed below, in the words of the companies behind them.

Comedy From the Shadows

The Warren Main House, May 5, 7, 8 and 9

A fresh and shameless show with an eclectic mix of theatre, dark comedy and live music, featuring charmingly anarchic characters who will leave your mouth agape as they reveal the depths of your psyche. They’ll play with your thoughts, chew them up and spit them out in the form of cabaret that pulls you through a crazy hall of mirrors into a disturbing world far more familiar than you may like to admit.

Fall of Duty

Sweet Waterfront 2, May 8-14

1916. An actor falls from the sky in Northern France. One hundred years on, can Sue and her son Jack, 20, escape political turmoil and an addiction to infinite warfare? This play features four people thrust together by war, song, reality, and escapism, but pulled apart by a century.

Focus Group

The Old Market, May 7

Inspired by the short story Mister Squishy by cult US writer David Foster Wallace, Focus Group is a comedy with a dark heart, exploring the absurdity of modern life and consumer culture with humanity. It is dark, unsettling and playful. The production celebrates the human drive to continue in what can feel like an increasingly remote reality.


Rialto Theatre, May 9-13

1991. England. Jack reigns from the armchair of his rest home, a local legend. Decorated veteran of Tobruk, former river warden, boxer, horse whisperer, boat builder, charmer, prolific father and husband to a very unhappy wife. Memories are, by his own hand, tattooed on his body, but dementia is eroding his mind. As the Gulf War rages, the past drags him back to the scorched sands.


Purple Playhouse Theatre, May 6, 7 and 28

Enter cabaret land where a troupe of insects have gathered. Foraging vestiges from our human world and with bold integrity, they tell us about their domain. The show is subversive, comedic and thoughtful. But as the theatre of insects progresses, we realise they have an urgent message to convey. Are we ready to listen?

Other highlights


Avery Sunshine

The Old Market, May 17

The US soul singer has been gaining popularity on these shores off the back of an appearance on Later Live...with Jools Holland and at Love Supreme Jazz Festival. She also opened for jazz icon Gregory Porter on his recent UK tour.

UK Subs

Patterns, May 13

One of the UK’s original punk bands, the Subs are still going strong more than 40 years after their formation. They sculpted their sound in London pubs, peddling a form of hyperactive R & B that was similar to their contemporaries Dr Feelgood. Expect to hear hits like Stranglehold, Warhead and Teenage at the Fringe.

Carla Lippis

Brighton Spiegeltent, May 27-29

The Australian singer blends pop, rockabilly and surf into a formidable package. During her run at the Edinburgh Festival last year, a local magazine remarked that she was “like something from a Tarantino film”.


We Are Ian, Komedia, May 30 and June 1

This homage to the Manchester acid house scene is a blur of energy and colour, featuring drugs, beats and illegal raves. For all those who remember jumping up and down in a field and cursing Margaret Thatcher... and those who don’t.

John Osborne

The Warren: Studio 2, May 26-29

A new storytelling show about how finding an old collection of copies of The Radio Times leads writer John Osborne to piece together the life of someone he barely knew, and the changing nature of the way all of us watch television.


Sweet Dukebox, May 19-21

Patrick Sandford asked 100 people “How do you know when you are happy?” This question is explored in a kaleidoscopic show.

Visual art

Over the Hill

Montefiore Hospital, May 5-26

Tim Andrews turned himself into an art project after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2005 and has since been photographed by more than 400 snappers. This exhibition showcases just some of the striking images.

The Dance Trail

Montpelier Place Baptist Church, May 5-7

A collection of short new works by local artists exploring borders, barriers and belonging, set along the boundary line between Brighton and Hove.

Best of the rest

Only in Brighton

Meet outside Royal Pavilion shop, various dates

A fact-filled walk that celebrates this unique city. Discover what connects ABBA to the Portuguese Revolution; a stained wall to a worldwide brand; Mount Everest to Tesco.

The Angel and the Fiend Friends

Meeting House, May 13-20

Lee Miller was a muse, model, surrealist photographer and WWII war correspondent, who later moved to Farley Farm, East Sussex. The highs and lows of Miller’s turbulent life are explored in The Angel and The Fiend, a dramatised reading of words, edited from original text or dialogue by the characters where possible, and set to a continuous projection of images.

Hip Trip

Meet at Brighton Clock Tower, various dates

An immersive journey through the streets of 1970s Brighton. Hip Trip explores the true story of Brightonian Anne Clarke. The discovery of Anne’s diaries and letters by squatter Jolie Booth unearthed a huge archive about the city they’ve lived in and experiences they’ve shared. Visit places Anne wrote about and learn how her life left an imprint on the city.

La Llorona: The Weeping Woman

Preston Manor, May 11-14

A modern ghost story set in and around the grounds of Preston Manor that incorporates live performance, video, music, ritual and theatre.

Sophie Willian

Marlborough Theatre, May 7

Both brutally honest and gloriously unpredictable, Sophie Willan takes inspiration from her unusual life experiences to make bold, unapologetic and political work. A force to be reckoned with, she exudes confidence and northern charm.

Last Orders at the Dog and Dumplings

Brighton Spiegeltent, May 10 and 11

Radio DJ Boogaloo Stu’s dark comedy is a merciless exposé of the coldblooded takeover striking our communities. Faced with imminent closure, publicans from the Dog & Dumplings take on the big boys in this musical tale of a busy boozer.

For tickets and more information, visit or call 01273 917272