Category Archives: Previews

What’s worth watching: Brighton Fringe 2017

Brighton Pier

And here it comes. Festival fringe season is almost upon us. The Vault Festival is a decent stop-gap in February, but for me, nothing beats the thrill of a festival where anyone can take part and, in theory at least, anyone can be the highlight of the whole festival. As always, the more I know about these festivals, the longer the list gets, so expect this to come in stages.

Last year I started off in quite a bit of detail about how Brighton Fringe was changing. The arrival of Sweet Venues and an unprecedented 20% expansion in entries suddenly made this fringe a much bigger event. This year, there’s been more modest changes, and more of the same: a further 7% increase in registrations, and Sweet Venues stays broadly in the same venues, taking on a new one for the sole use of a stage version of Trainspotting. The only disappointing news as that Republic, a venue similar to Spiegeltent, is not coming back this year – it seems this city ain’t big enough for two Spiegeltents.

Anyway, let’s get on. Full rules of how I make recommendations here. Most important one to repeat yet again: I only know about a fraction of the stuff going on in Brighton. So treat this as a cross-section of the good stuff out there, not an exhaustive list.

Right, so what have I got for you? Continue reading

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What’s worth watching: winter/spring 2017

I’m not quite done with 2016. I’ve got three final shows performed very close to Christmas that need reviews (two of which you can work out from the last article, the other which you can work out with a bit of sleuthdom), but 2017 is already underway and I’ve a whole new list of recommendations to go through. It’s a long one this time. My lists might be getting longer because I’m getting to know more good theatre companies, but there’s also quite a bit of good stuff coming from the usual suspects.

To save me repeating myself every time, I’ve written up a Recommendations Policy to explain how this works. Please bear in mind that I make the rules up as I go along and what I said yesterday might be wildly out of date next week. If you can’t be bothered to read through that, the only thing you need to remember is that this is a cross-section of the good stuff out there, not an exhaustive list.

So what can I recommend for you? Continue reading

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What’s worth watching: autumn/winter 2016

Autumn equinox has just gone, putting an end a period over the first three weeks of September where people violently argue over whether it’s already autumn (as per the meteorological definition) or still summer (as per the astronomical definition). So now that you’ve all finished arguing over that, let’s go into this list of recommendations.

You know the score by now: I’ve searched the listing of the north-east theatres and looked for stuff that grabbed my attention, but this is a cross-section of stuff out there worth watching, and not an exhaustive list. For future reference, if I have seen you before and reviewed you favourably, you are encouraged to send me press releases for new projects if you’d like to be included here – I will probably pick up on what you’re doing anyway, but sometimes things escape my attention and a press release is a good backup. If I have not seen you before, it is unlikely you’ll get on to this list – invite me to review you and I might get you on the list in future seasons. Continue reading

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What’s Worth Watching: Edinburgh Fringe 2016

Yeek. Fringe officially starts tomorrow. Better get a move on with this. I’ve done my usual scan through the fringe programme and picked out things that grabbed my attention. And to keep to size down to something manageable, I am restricting my list to acts I’ve seen before (with one exception that I couldn’t resist). Even so, the list is getting longer, and I may struggle to see all of these in the time I have in Edinburgh.

As usual, please treat this as a cross-section of the good stuff out there, not a comprehensive top 25 of the entire fringe or whatever. The vast majority of things in the programme are people I’ve never heard of who could be great, good, mediocre or shit. There are quite a few plays I’ve heard good things about from other reviewers, but they won’t come on to this list until I see it for myself. If you want to see a list that gives fair consideration to all plays across the whole programme, there are arts publications that aim to do that, but for me it’s down to what I’ve happened to see, and in a festival of this size, this largely comes down to chance.

Enough disclaimers though. What have I got for you? Continue reading

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What’s worth watching: Buxton Fringe 2016

Eeek. Whilst I’ve been catching up on the Brighton Fringe roundup, Buxton Fringe has been creeping up on me. Better get these recommendations out of the way. I’ve looked through the programme and found six things that stand out for me in theatre. The big news, as I’ve previously reported, is that it looks like this year really will be the final year of Pauper’s Pit and the Barrel Room, arguably the main venue in Buxton.

As always, these recommendations are almost entirely based on the previous performances of the groups involved. Even though I now know quite a lot about who the Buxton regulars are, there are many groups I still haven’t had a chance to see, including some I’ve heard some good things about. So, bearing in mind this is a non-exhaustive list, here’s what I have for you: Continue reading

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What’s worth watching: spring/summer 2016

Eeek. It’s June and I still haven’t done my list of upcoming recommendations. I do have the excuse that Brighton Fringe has kept me busier than usual, but all the seem, eeeeek! Luckily, if you’re using the astronomical definition of spring, that doesn’t begin until the soltice later this month. However, my intended recommendations are starting pretty soon, so I’d better get a move on.

So here’s a list of things that have grabbed my interest in the north-east, up to the end of Septemberish. As always, this is a reminder of stuff that I know about personally. Where arts publications are raving about a play, I generally won’t write about it unless I’ve seen it myself. Therefore, this is best looked on as a cross-section of stuff out there rather than a comprehensive list – there are always things I see later that I would have added to the list if I’d known about it at the time.

All right, enough waffling. I really need to get a move on now. Let’s see what I’ve got for you. Continue reading

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What’s worth watching: Brighton Fringe 2016

Fringe City

And we’re off again. Hope you all enjoyed your seven months of post-Edinburgh Fringe hibernation, but Brighton Fringe is creeping up on us again. So, as always, I have looked through the programme, and here are my picks of things that I can recommend to you.

As always, the important thing to be aware of is that this should be considered a cross-section of good things that are on offer, rather than an exhaustive list. These are all either plays I’ve seen before, or plays from artists I’ve seen before, or both. And what I’ve seen before – and who’s been able to get my attention – largely comes down to chance. In particular, there are a number of plays I’m confident will be good based on recommendations of other reviewers who I know and trust – but those plays will be recommended elsewhere. This is just for my personal recommendations.

One other point of note is a reminder that plays I am involved in are not eligible for recommendations. This is the first time this rules applies at the Brighton Fringe. Of course, I can get round this rule by shoehorning in references to the fact that I’m putting on my own play in Brighton. Bit like I’m doing now. Anyway, if you really want to read about that, you can do so here. Continue reading


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