A leaner Brighton Fringe shows its resilience with a programme of the usual mix of weird, wonderful and the down right exemplary.
How lovely to see the Brighton Fringe’s return to a full programme of events. Audience confidence has still not returned to pre-pandemic levels but there are encouraging signs that people do want to come out to see live entertainment, and many did.
Covering over forty shows between us, for the first time since 2018 we reviewed as a small team and enjoyed many conversations about what each other was covering and the general ambience of the 2022 Fringe. The camaraderie of fellow reviewers is always welcome and lovely to receive. Hopefully this is something we will take into the 2023 festival too.
Notable in its absence was The Warren, which has become a hub of festival activity over the years. Otherplace productions (The Warren Production team), had stepped back from participating due to financial challenges and the late payment of artists, staff and suppliers in the 2021 Fringe. Although, in an unexpected move, they did run a programme of events from the Electric Arcade venue at the same time as the Fringe, but not affiliated with them, which caused some controversy.
Away from the furore, over sixty other venues played out a vast and varied programme. The Spiegeltent stepped up as a focal point for many and others such as the Rotunda Theatre, based on Regency Square, sprung up too, to fill any void. Many returning venues and producers had compelling works on, including the Friends Meeting House, The Rialto Theatre, The Ironworks and Sweet Venues, both at their new space at The Poets Smoke and Ale House in Hove and at the Duke of Wellington in Brighton. The Caxton Arms and The Walrus pubs championed comedy, with the Laughing Horse comedy team programming prestigiously.
Taking a focusing editor’s eye on comedy, this Fringe became the year of the clowns. The word “Clowning” can have a negative effect on an audience who expect to see white painted faces and red noses and are put off, but switch the term to “Physical Comedy” and the crowds return. This year’s modern day clowns (or physical performers if you prefer) were exemplary.
Wonderful shows about coming of age, whether that be as a gay man (Lachlan Werner) or a potato (Freddie Hayes), wowed the throng. Werner was especially endearing, funny and engaging. Other notables included the off the wall performance by Julia Masli, the sheer silliness of Sami Abu Wardeh and hundred mile an hour charm of Leanne Shorely.
Sketch comedy has reduced vastly since its heyday but Siblings, Tarot and Nicholls and Brown have all proved it can still be done well and that it’s a vital part of the comedy circuit. Elsewhere, the stars of the burgeoning Brighton improv comedy scene could be seen performing at various showcases throughout May.
Our Award Goes to:
When it came to discussing who our Reviews Hub Brighton Fringe Award winner was in 2022 was tricky. It was a tight race as there were so many outstanding 5 star performances.
We narrowed it down to three:
After some debate we agreed Lachlan Werner to be the worthy winner. His show was outstanding, not only well crafted and funny but a true embodiment of what a Brighton Fringe show should be. Werner will receive The Reviews Hub Award and advertising on our website for any shows from June 2022 – June 2023. Well done Lachlan.
It has been another bumper year!