The Argus: Brighton Festival ThumbIt’s easy to forget there is a serious message underlying this year’s Brighton Festival.

The shows are booked because they relate to themes of freedom and liberty, to artistic director Aung San Suu Kyi’s struggle. (She is the human rights campaigner who sacrificed her freedom to campaign for the Burmese people).

The Argus: angel awards with mayo wynne baxter_75px.jpg The best pieces should thus provoke serious thought and entertain. Told By An Idiot’s And The Horse You Rode In On succeeded at both. Brilliantly.

The company cites many inspirations: Gunter Grass, Hitchcock’s Sabotage, Are You Being Served?, Pulp Fiction’s anarchic storytelling style.

But the true motor is Bertolt Brecht. In one of the many meticulously-plotted, majestically delivered, crazy comic scenes, two wannabe revolutionaries plan to blow up a mocked-up Grace Brothers department store in Munich.

Prior to the event, Frau Slocombe discovers Brecht’s The Measures Taken, which ruminates on how the needs of many can outweigh those of an individual.

It’s fitting because the German playwright – whose drama was always open set, everything on show, message before story – was concerned with justice. And, regarding justice, his enduring question was: do the ends justify the means?

Told By An Idiot makes it their mantra to reflect that propostion through their recurring message: enlightenment by demonstration, which weaves though five intermingled stories running parallel.

The five-strong troupe are as hard-working and accomplished a cast as one will see. Each is irreplaceable – be it adding silly sound effects or mime-acting to voice-overs with ad-libbed comic timing and playing the hilarious hyper-emotional girl-boy Stevie.

The performance is as much panto-pomp and innuendo as clever writing, and the actors work the surreal set (all fake hands and umbrellas) to its limits, with imagination and ingenious creativity.

The subtle cultural references are there, but there is no intellectual muscle flexing. To enjoy this show, one only need turn up.