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Postcard from Brighton: May 4
Written by Richard Stamp   
Published on Tuesday, 05 May 2009

Major excitement today - there was a riot in Brighton!  Well, so I hear.  You'd probably expect a riot to be a thing you'd notice if it happened nearby, but I'd been completely oblivious until I picked it up on Twitter.  Something tells me I'm not cut out for news journalism.

Admittedly there was a fairly colourful cast of "characters" around the city, but the most riotous behaviour I personally observed was improper sitting-on-the-grass in front of the Royal Pavilion.  Thinking about it though, perhaps the demonstrations were somehow responsible for the fact that none of the cash machines in Brighton were working this morning?  Now THAT was really annoying.


4.5 starEurovision

May 5, 6, 23; 8:30pm (1hr); Upstairs at Three and Ten

No problems Making My Mind Up on this one; it's Congratulations to Brighton-based Otherplace Productions for this curious, intriguing short play.  Set against the most unlikely of backdrops, Eurovision follows a fictional British entrant called Didi - who plays as cruelly with her lyricist's affections as you might play with a Puppet On A String.

Oh, enough already: despite the kitsch setting and some very funny lines, Eurovision ultimately deserves respect as a serious play.  You see, this isn't really about the song contest; that's just the context, a spotlight shone into the characters' lives to illuminate the drama.  Set that aside, and - as song-writing partners Harry and Geoff quarrel and cry over Didi's fickle affections - it could be anybody, any time, anywhere.

Though she's the central character, Didi has by far the fewest lines; she's a lurking, often silent presence, the beautiful yet poisoned fountain of bubbling discord.  Instead, we learn about the artists' history through a series of two- and three-handers, each exposing more of the group's dynamic and challenging what we thought we'd learned before.  Together, we cringe at poor Harry's misfortune, warm to the cold-hearted Geoff and, ultimately, yearn for a reconciliation between them all.

Keeping it together, and delivering most of the play's one-liners, is Ken - a man who, not preferring women, can rise above it all.  The world-wise but very proper Ken is brilliantly conceived, and well-acted too; with impeccable timing and delicious delivery, his muted opprobrium is a joy to behold.  He steals the show when he's on the stage but, wisely, he's not there all the time.

If I'm being picky, I'd have to point out that Harry's lovelorn staring-into-space was just a teensy bit over-acted, and that the intellectual banter was occasionally too clever for its own good.  But that shouldn't discourage anyone from seeing this fine play - which somehow brings a touching human story to the most bizarrely incongruous of settings.


Faith in the City

Saturdays & Bank Holiday Monday (25th), 11am - 4:30pm; Sundays 2:30pm - 5pm.  Dorset Gardens Methodist Church. 

One of the things I like most about these Festivals - both Brighton and Edinburgh - is the chance to mooch around an art gallery between shows.  Better still, at this time of year, all kinds of unexpected spaces turn into a temporary home for visual art.  So I wasn't the least surprised to walk past the Methodist church on Dorset Gardens and see a sign calling me inside.

As often in these cases, it was a good old church-fete rummage of an exhibition, representing almost every conceivable style and a vast array of local and invited talent.  Perhaps the most striking new artworks on display were Louise Mabbs' Twist and Shout, a pair of delicately-coloured, geometric compositions sewn out of twisted fabric; a year in the making, they'll be a gorgeous talking point for someone's home.

But what I'll remember most about my visit was a chance meeting with Shirley Veater, the congregation member who designed the church's magnificent stained glass window.  It must be such a thrill to see your own artwork incorporated into a building, and it was fascinating to hear about the making of the window from the designer's own mouth.  I've no doubt the local congregation already know all about Shirley's achievement - but isn't it wonderful that the Fringe gives the rest of us a chance to hear about it, too?


And so the sun sets over the Channel and it's the end of another day.  Tomorrow, FringeGuru's going down the plughole.  Don't worry, though... it'll all be clear in the next Postcard!  See you then.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2009.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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