Brighton Festival Fringe highlights

One of the joys of festivals is just  hanging around and bumping into stuff you had no idea about – a dance troupe from Plotsk or ambient theatre from somewhere you can’t pronounce let alone say where it is. And while that’s lovely… three of The Whistler’s favourite artists are playing the Festival and we’ve seen them a thousand times, but we’re still very very excited. 

They’ve been around since we were all much younger, but Manchester’s finest
A Certain Ratio (May 6, Chalk) are right now better than they’ve ever been. Jah Wobble’s “Metal Box: Rebuilt in Dub” always seemed an odd idea – it was kinda built in dub in the first place, and while we’re not always a big fan of “revisiting” old classics – they’re classics for a reason – you know this will be interesting. Louder, heavier, dubbier. And anything involving Wobble will always be a treat. Talking of dubbier, there’s Aba Shanti-I with legendary producer Dennis Bovell (May 7, Concorde 2). Also on is Brighton Festival director Nabihah Iqbal, playing from her acclaimed debut album of shimmering electronica Weighing Of The Heart on the always cool Ninja Tune label. Staying with music – well, ish – Linton Kwesi Johnson is reading from his new prose selection, Time Come (May 14, Theatre Royal).

You can’t talk about an arts festival without talking about installations and The Sleeping Tree (May 6, 7, The Dome) sounds perfect. “Enter one of the last great rainforests of North Sumatra and follow a family of endangered Siamang Gibbons as they wake, roam across the jungle and return to their sleeping tree, one of six majestic trees that they have used for generations”. You’re there, aren’t you. The installation changes throughout the day and depending on the activity in the rainforest at the time you go there. Just lovely – and important.

An “unapologetically queer” tale that was first performed in front of Queen Elizabeth 1 more than 400 years ago, Galatea, is “set in a world where gods walk among mortals, two young trans people escape oppression and a shipwrecked migrant searches for his family”. Not sure about the gods walking among the mortals bit – though we do try to keep an open mind – but it doesn’t sound 400 years old. (May 6-21, Adur Recreation Ground, Shoreham).

Thirty years after it was released, Derek Jarman’s last film, Blue, has been given a makeover by director Neil Bartlett, (May 7, Theatre Royal). Blue Now sees Russell Tovey, Travis Alabanza, Joelle Taylor and Jay Bernard delivering Jarman’s words live on stage, accompanied by a new live score by the film’s composer, Simon Fisher Turner.

Daring To Be Frida is a photography and fashion exhibition inspired by the life and work of Frida Kahlo opens on May 1, and will be on at 114 Church St for the rest of May. 

You want a bit of comedy? What’s wrong with comedy? You don’t like comedy etc etc. The Fringe isn’t  the Fringe without a bit of stand-up comedy and In How To Be Jewish Gillian Fischer (pictured) wants to be Jewish. Actually she already is, but somewhere she’s forgotten this. Now she’s a mother…  (May 16-18, Laughing Horse @ The Quadrant) 

And that picture at the top of the page? “Expect a wild and vivid night filled with happy hedonism, fabulous fashion, go-go performers, and non-stop dancing to a banquet of bangers, including pop, disco, house and techno”. You’re there already, aren’t you. Our Roots is a celebration of queer chaos at the Dome (May 27) 

“Think ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ meets David Lynch”. Love it. It’s got Fringe written all over it. Degenerate is “a hellscape stand-up comedy fever dream” that descends into a full frontal face-off with the concept of ageing”. Ageing? No, no idea. None at all. May 31, June 1 The Rotunda Theatre: Squeak. 

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