This year’s Festival and Fringe have enjoyed a five-star opening weekend.

The two events kicked off on Saturday with dozens of shows held across Brighton and Hove over the bank holiday weekend.

Of the 42 shows reviewed by Argus writers, almost a quarter were awarded five-star ratings.

The top-rate performances were held in venues of all shapes and sizes from the magnificent Brighton Dome to the mystical Spiegeltent.

A new location for The Warren this year, which appears in the grounds of St Peter’s Church, also saw five-star shows.

Argus Guide writer Duncan Hall, who has been heavily involved in our coverage, said: “With Ali Smith onboard as guest artistic director of the Festival, who really crosses artistic boundaries, this year’s programme feels like it has gone up a notch.

“With the Fringe, the Otherplace production company has really set up the challenge for everyone else with the quality of shows.

“Their position in the grounds of St Peter’s Church this year really creates an Edinburgh Fringe feel.”

Both Camille O’Sullivan, a cabaret star famed for her role in West-End hit LaClique, and My Mini Disco, a show for parents and children, were given glowing reviews. The shows were both staged in the Spiegeltent.

Mr Hall, who reviewed Camille O’Sullivan, said: “What makes O’Sullivan stand out from the cabaret crowd is her unique take on contemporary rock music, reimagining the likes of Nick Cave, David Bowie, Radiohead and even an unhinged version of Tom Waits’s God’s Away On Business.”

Festival performances of note included Luke Wright at the Dome Studio Theatre, who was praised for his “sensitivity and self-deprecating charm” in his guise as a well-dressed, lyrically blessed Essex lad.

Finger And Thumb: Small Fables at The Old Market also gained a positive review for its shadow puppetry show.

Rachel Kneebone’s sculptures at the University of Brighton were given five stars for the “sheer workmanship” in each piece.

The sculptures, made of porcelain, show twisted roots and surreal body parts dangling in a decadent manner.

Five of the five-star reviews not only scooped the top rating but were also awarded Argus Angels.


So what is an Argus Angel?
Argus Angels are given to artists and performers at the Festival and Fringe in recognition of outstanding work that deserves a wider audience.
The Angels first came into being in 2007 with previous winners including Tim Minchin and Count Arthur Strong.
Reviewers nominate shows and the Angel committee at The Argus then decide.
There is also a Readers’ Choice Argus Angel which is voted for by you.
Simply Tweet my #ArgusAngel goes to... followed by the performance and venue.
Alternatively, email with “Argus Angel” in the subject box.


FIVE shows attracted such high praise that they were bestowed with the honour of an Argus Angel.
Festival shows to win the accolade included Regular Singing, one of four pieces as part of The Apple Family Plays at the Dome Corn Exchange.

Written by Tony Award-winning Richard Nelson, the plays focus on one family working through mid-term US politics, the anniversary of 9/11, presidential elections and the 50th anniversary of the death of JFK.
Another theatre show, Lungs, at the Roundabout pop-up space in Regency Square, did enough to bring forth tears among the audience on Saturday.

Featured earlier this week, Isabelle Faust was awarded for her marathon four-hour solo violin performance of Bach sonatas at All Saints Church. Her reviewer highlighted the “superfine dynamics” and “most delicately perfect trills imaginable”.

For the Fringe, Point And Shoot at The Warren was praised for its originality, telling the tale of a screenwriter with a dream of recreating cinema from the old days.

Another Otherplace venue, The Basement in Kensington Street, was the location of The State Vs John Hayes, a one-woman show about death row in Texas. It was described as “unflinchingly dark and consciously unsettling”.