England’s largest fringe festival takes over the city of Brighton during the month of May. The Brighton Fringe brings the great, the good, and the ‘that-could-do-with-a-bit-more-rehearsing’ of the arts to the seaside city. Of the 740 events, my partner and I went to see two: I need a Doctor: The Whosical and Shit-faced Shakespeare.
The Whosical runs through the story of two Whovians and their need to dodge cease and desist letters from the litigious Stephen Moffat using a questionable principle of “different, but the same”. K-9 became K-10; Daleks became Exterminators; and the Cybermen are cunningly disguised as the Cyber-Gents (who tap dance!). Different, but the same. With just two of them playing all the characters; sometimes more than one at the same time. It’s a wonderfully warm and endearing tale, peppered with songs, which only adds to a story that is best described as cute. I laughed so hard that I was close to rolling in the aisles. Here’s a taster:
Shit-faced Shakespeare: a team of classically trained actors stumble through an abridged version of Much Ado About Nothing, whilst one of them is, well…. shit-faced. Shit-faced, for those of a non-UK background, means bladdered. That’s just as confusing, Gazebo’d? Tanked? Hammered? Legless? Smashed? Three sheets to the wind? Really drunk basically. This thoroughly enjoyable story is made all the better as the other (non-tipsy) actors attempt not to corpse in the face of alcohol-inspired anarchy.
The compere, wearing what can only be described as Dorothy’s Ruby Red Chucks (something I must own!) a morning suit jacket and braces, is in charge of the plastered actor, directing them back to the stage when they wander into the audience in search of a lighter, a cigarette, their boyfriend, a friend, a seat to rest or just a chat. My favourite bit was when she stopped the show to tell another actor they were hamming it up too much and should have another go.
Here’s footage of them on a different night:
Both performances highlight the fantastic variety of great performers in the UK and the unique twists that have been applied to iconic British institutions. If you ever want to go on a journey in a Police Box (different, but the same) or see an actor actually go rogue with Shakespearean material then these are definitely two shows to check out. Both will be appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe, the largest fringe festival in the world.