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The Brighton Fringe is here again!  Running throughout May, England's largest arts gathering is going from strength to strength, drawing together the city's already-vibrant cultural scene and cementing its position among the leading Festivals of the world.  Informal and manageable, all events are within easy striking distance of London - or if you're coming from further afield, Gatwick's a short train ride away.

The Brighton Fringe is four weeks long this year.  In a change from previous festivals, events run from 4 May right through to 2 June - taking in both May's bank holidays, as well as school half-term.



 
Trials and Tribulations of Mr Pickwick
Published on Tuesday, 14 May 2013
4

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4 stars

The Old Courtroom (venue website)
Theatre
10 May, 5:30pm-6:50pm; 25-26 May, 4:30pm-5:50pm
Reviewed by Richard Stamp

 Family-friendly. Suitable for all ages.

It’s a shameful thing to acknowledge… but before I saw this show, all I knew about Mr Pickwick was that he was a kindly old gentleman, who was somehow involved with some papers. In his delightful one-man adaptation, Nigel Nevinson cherry-picks highlights from Dickens’ first novel – delivering a witty and warming monologue, which taught me a bit about the character and lifted my spirits at the same time.

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My Robot Heart by Molly Naylor
Published on Tuesday, 14 May 2013
5

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5 stars

The Warren (venue website)
Theatre
Run Ended
Reviewed by Darren Taffinder

 Parental Guidance. Under-17's must be accompanied by an adult.

As I’m writing this review of Molly Naylor’s My Robot Heart, I’m listening to the Middle Ones on YouTube. The quirky female folk duo form part of this wonderful show about love, and their accompanying songs really help capture its whimsical mood. At times deeply intimate and very poignant, at the end I left with a spring in my step, despite the grim weather outside.

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Cruising
Published on Tuesday, 14 May 2013
1

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1 stars

The Warren (venue website)
Theatre
12, 19, 26 May, 9:00pm-10:10pm; 1-2 Jun, 7:45pm-8:55pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Warning: Contains strong language.
 World Premiere.
 Suitable for age 16+ only.

Sometimes, when you’re watching a show, you realise the cast are echoing your own thoughts back at you. Unfortunately for uber-camp sci-fi musical Cruising, this moment happened when the four-piece ensemble witness a disaster and trill “Is it even real, what I’m seeing, right in front of me?... I don’t know whether to laugh or scream.” But I’ll come back later to the disaster the cast witness, and how it collided with this disaster of a show. Because quite a lot happens before that point. And most of it baffled me.

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Betsy: Wisdom of a Brighton Whore
Published on Tuesday, 14 May 2013
4

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4 stars

Old Police Cells Museum (venue website)
Theatre
9-10, 16-17, 23-24 May, 6:30pm-7:30pm; 11, 18, 25 May, 4:00pm-5:00pm
Reviewed by Darren Taffinder

 Warning: Contains strong language.
 World Premiere.
 Suitable for age 16+ only.

Take it from me: when watching a show about an 18th-century prostitute, it’s best not to sit in the front row. Especially if you’re a man on his own. There were moments when I didn’t quite know where to look. This is a fun, and at times crude, look at Victorian Brighton, but I do have one big misgiving – the way it ends.

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Road by Jim Cartwright
Published on Monday, 13 May 2013
4

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4 stars

Academy of Creative Training (venue website)
Theatre
3-4, 7-10, 15-17, 22-24, 29-31 May, 7:30pm-10:00pm; 11, 18, 25 May, 1 Jun, 2:00pm-4:30pm, 7:30pm-10:00pm; 12, 19, 26 May, 5:00pm-7:30pm
Reviewed by Darren Taffinder

 Warning: Contains strong language.
 Suitable for age 16+ only.

After what feels like weeks of watching-hour long Fringe shows, I wanted to see something longer, sprawling… epic even. At two-and-a-half hours plus, Road by Jim Cartwright (also known for The Rise and Fall of Little Voice) is certainly longer, maybe a bit too long. It’s ambitious and challenging, and a deeply political piece of theatre. I’m not exactly sure if I enjoyed it, but I was riveted by parts of it, and angered by others. Some of it was so bleak I wanted to run out and phone the Samaritans. I certainly wasn’t bored.

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Jane Austen's 'Northanger Abbey'
Published on Monday, 13 May 2013
4

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4 stars

Upstairs at Three and Ten (venue website)
Theatre
11-12 May, 1-2 Jun, 1:00pm-2:15pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Parental Guidance. Under-17's must be accompanied by an adult.

Some people don’t really do puppets. Or don’t really see the appeal of puppets outside knockabout kids’ shows. Puppet aversion, I think, is due to concerns that puppets just aren’t going to be as relatable as human actors, but it’s actually uncanny just how real they can seem in a clever show. It’s magical to realise you are suddenly connecting with a puppet, just as you would a person; the human brain’s eagerness to assume a theory of mind for anything with an approximate face is a wonder.

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Panda Pride!
Published on Monday, 13 May 2013
2

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2 stars

Hanover Community Centre (venue website)
Comedy
10-12 May, 8:00pm-9:00pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Parental Guidance. Under-17's must be accompanied by an adult.

This show starts on a silly, hilarious high. Two actors in giant, plush, panda costumes stumble into the Hanover Community Centre, bopping shyly to Michael Jackson’s Black or White. People in animal costumes mucking about are just very funny, and always fun to watch. It’s a real pity this show never hit the heights of its opening moments again.

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The Pardonerís Tale
Published on Monday, 13 May 2013
4

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4 stars

The Warren (venue website)
Theatre
10, 31 May, 7:45pm-8:45pm; 11-12 May, 1-2 Jun, 4:00pm-5:00pm
Reviewed by Richard Stamp

 Warning: Contains strong language.
 Parental Guidance. Under-17's must be accompanied by an adult.

So, you know the Pardoner’s Tale? The one from the Canterbury Tales, with the weird old man and the treasure chest and the three blokes who go off to find Death hiding under a tree? No, I didn’t either. But it doesn’t matter: this rumbustious, fun-loving performance faithfully fills in the essentials of the story, without ever letting it get in the way of a gleeful romp through an entertainingly modernised version of Chaucer’s England.

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