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Brighton Fringe: Top 10 theatre shows to see

Sam Ward in Five Encounters on a Site Called Craigslist Sam Ward in Five Encounters on a Site Called Craigslist
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The Brighton Fringe, England’s biggest fringe festival, opens today. Taking place in venues across Brighton and Hove, it runs until June 3. In 2017, the fringe consisted of more than 1,000 events at 168 venues and this year promises to be similarly massive. Natasha Tripney picks her top 10 shows to see…

Grace – The Warren, May 4-7

Katie Reddin-Clancy’s play about gender fluidity and performance sounds really intriguing. As with last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, gender identity and its complexities is one of the key themes in Brighton and this play about a comedy double-act is one of a large number of shows tackling the subject.

The Sleeper – Rialto Theatre – May 5-7

Part of Window, Brighton Fringe’s arts industry showcase, Anima Theatre’s show uses the testimony of Syrian refugees to tell the story of an encounter between a British writer and a foreign woman on a sleeper train. Side note: the Rialto has a lovely bar.

Gypsy Queen – Marlborough Theatre, May 8-10

This tender gay love story set in the world of boxing was a hit with our critic at this year’s Vault Festival. It’s playing one of Brighton’s most consistently interesting venues – dedicated LGBT theatre the Marlborough. The Stage called it “a slick and sympathetic exploration of gay love in a homophobic environment”.

Gypsy Queen review at Vaults, London – ‘a multi-faceted love story’

Five Encounters on a Site Called Craigslist – Marlborough Theatre, May 11-12

YesYesNoNo’s show about sexuality and self-discovery was one of the finds of last year’s fringe, a promising show from a company with potential. The Stage called it a “messy, makeshift, but surprisingly satisfying experiment in self-disclosure”.

Five Encounters on a Site Called Craigslist review at Zoo, Edinburgh – ‘satisfying experiment in self-disclosure’

Sexxes – Marlborough Theatre, May 19-20

Performance artist Mamoru Iriguchi, called one UK theatre’s “most ingenious figures” by The Stage, presents a new piece about gender identity performed with his usual inventive multimedia DIY aesthetic at the Marlborough Theatre.

DollyWould – The Old Market, May 22-25

Following hugely successful runs at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and at Soho Theatre, Rebecca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole bring their exuberant and extremely entertaining hymn to Dolly Parton, cloning, celebrity culture, and the inevitability of decay.

DollyWould review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘gleefully scrappy’


I Want You to Admire Me/But You Shouldn’t – Marlborough Theatre, May 22-23

The Stage’s Rosemary Waugh was very taken with Dirty Rascals’ show when she saw it at Camden People’s Theatre’s Sprint Festival earlier in the year. Taking the form of a TV game show, this devised piece explores public shaming in an online world.

I Want You to Admire Me/But You Shouldn’t review at Camden People’s Theatre, London

A Serious Play About World War II – The Warren, May 26-28

This comedy from duo Willis and Vere was another one of The Stage’s highlights from this year’s Vault Festival. Fergus Morgan called it a “smartly plotted metatheatrical farce” in his four-star review.

A Serious Play About World War II review at Vaults, London – ‘a metatheatrical farce’

Tina C’s 20: 20 Vision – Brighton Spiegeltent, May 31-June 2

The Brighton Fringe has a particularly strong cabaret programme. Among the cabaret highlights this year, Christopher Green’s country music alter ego Tina C, one of the winners of the 2017 Brighton Fringe Award, performs a new show about Trump and the patriarchy.

John Osborne: John Peel’s Shed and Other Stories – The Warren, June 1-3

Poet, storyteller and performer John Osborne presents a trilogy of shows including immense fringe hit John Peel’s Shed, recent piece Circled in the Radio Times and a new work about dementia, You’re in a Bad Way, the latter can be seen on June 3.

A Good Man – The Warren, June 2-3

Actor Ed Eales-White was one of many good things in Jon Brittain’s Olivier-winning Rotterdam, bringing warmth and emotional complexity to what could have just been a secondary role. He stars in Clare Rebekah Ponting’s one-man play.

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