"I can't imagine doing this play, or wanting to see it, in a theatre. It needs some kind of site-specific or interactive treatment that involves the audience. “It lends itself much better to the event that we are creating on the pier.”

So says Richard Hahlo, co-artistic director of Hydrocracker, who are adapting Joe Orton’s television play The Erpingham Camp as a promenade performance on the Palace Pier.

Hydrocracker are no strangers to site- specific productions at the Brighton Festival. In 2007 they staged Harold Pinter’s nightmarish New World Order in Brighton Town Hall. And last year they were behind Argus Angel award-winning Shakespeare A La Carte at Pizza Express in Jubilee Square, which has since been performed on BBC Radio Four.

The Erpingham Camp is undoubtedly one of the highlights of this year’s Brighton Festival programme, partly because of its setting. “The pier is an iconic part of Brighton,” says Richard. “It is a perfect fit for the holiday camp location.”

The original play was set in a 1960s holiday camp, run by the titular Erpingham – an old school prude who has no time for rowdy behaviour and always suspects sexual debauchery is going on right under his nose.

When his holidaymakers start to revolt under the influence of the power-hungry Riley, Erpingham’s kingdom descends into chaos.

Orton initially wrote the piece, an update of Euripides’s Greek tragedy The Bacchae, for Rediffusion Television, and it was broadcast in 1966. It was first performed on stage at the Royal Court a year later, as part of a double bill alongside The Ruffian On The Stair.

More recently Ian McKellen directed a production in Watford, complete with side stalls and entertainments, and Johnny Vegas starred as Riley in a version at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2000.

Rather than make it a period piece, Hydrocracker’s version is set in the modern day, during a 1960s theme night. “We did talk about that aspect of it a lot,” says Richard. “It was important that we are in the present because the audience is an active part of the experience, but we also wanted to honour the text and Orton’s language. It is easier to bring people back to the 1960s in a theatre setting, but for us it wouldn’t really work.”

At present the actors are moving on to the pier to start on the technical side of the production, following two weeks in a rehearsal room with director Ellie Jones.

And there are a lot of technical details to iron out. The audience will be welcomed by the holiday camp’s staff at the pier entrance and served a fish supper before being taken to where the evening’s entertainment supposedly starts in the grand ballroom.

In fact the play will have been taking place during all that time.

“Locations like the fish and chip restaurant and the children’s playground have a timeless 1960s feel,” says Richard, who also plays the Padre in the play.

“Both of those and Horatio’s [the bar at the end of the pier] are perfect venues for us. When anarchy breaks out we’re hoping our audience will get caught up in the mayhem that ensues.”

Although the play was written in 1966, Richard feels the theme of the old establishment clashing with more liberated youngsters still has resonance today, underlined by Monday’s protests in Brighton city centre.

“Brighton is always seen as a place where certain behaviour can be allowed – that is its reputation,” says Richard. “This play asks, ‘How much do we repress and allow things to be controlled, and when we let things loose what is the consequence?’”

  • Starts 7pm and 10.30pm (Wed 13, Sun 17, Mon 18, Wed 20 and Thurs 21), SOLD OUT, ten £10 tickets available from 10am on the day