It's that time of year again, when I become so incredibly busy in the evenings and weekends that I don't know whether I'm coming or going and all my money seems to mysteriously disappear. Yes, it's the Brighton Fringe Festival, our annual celebration of creativity, artistry and hilariosity.
I never manage to see as many shows as I intend, but here's a quick rundown of some of my favourites so far. More to come at the end of the month when we take in the last chorus.
THE BURLESQUE IMPOSTER
Alexandra Shaw is Fanny Dent, and Fanny Dent is the Burlesque Imposter. A brilliant one woman (well, almost) show, The Burlesque Imposter takes burlesque back to its roots as a way to satirise and dissect society's weird little ways. As Fanny tries to make it in the world of burlesque, she confronts the expectations that society has of women, and those she has of herself.
It's an ingenious show, bringing burlesque back to what it used to be about - making people laugh and think - and away from the modern view of it being purely for titillation. What we get is a show that's sexy and smart, funny and fabulous, with some powerful moments that will make you stop and rethink your attitudes even as you're laughing or straining your neck to try to get a proper look around that tall person in front of you.
Far from being an imposter, Fanny brings us some of the wittiest, most creative dance routines ever seen. If you've seen the show in years past, then go along to see experience a perfected script and a performer at the top of her game. If you've not seen it, treat yourself to one of the funniest, sexiest and cleverest shows on the Fringe.
£8 - £10 Spiegeltent Fri 20th May to Sun 22nd May, 19.45
A TRANS FAIRYTALE
Cerys Evans, now with the Clap Back Club, brings back her one-woman show that sold out at the 2019 Fringe (you remember, the one in the before time). In another world, Miss... something-or-other is trying to make a living as a fairy godmother. This isn't like the fairytales you know, and our struggling fairy has to deal with shallow royals, a gobby disembodied narrator and the trials of fitting in in a trans-unfriendly world.
This revamped, perfected version of A Trans Fairytale has new puppets, up-to-the-minute jokes and plenty of silliness, but it's the emotional heart of the story that will get you, as our heroine searches for her elusive happy ending. In a time when trans people are facing a horrifying upsurge of bigotry, Cerys faces issues head-on with a heartfelt and captivating performance.
This hilarious, foul-mouthed and powerful play will make you laugh and hit you in the heart. An intensely personal show, Cerys has made this already great play even better for what will likely be it's last ever time on stage. Not to be missed.
£8 - £10 Latest Music Bar Thurs 19th May (TONIGHT!) and Fri 20th May, 22.00
PETE STRONG: GREENFINCH
Bridport Poetry Prize nominee Pete Strong returns for an entirely new performance, combining poetry, comedy and audiovisual experience to powerful effect. An intimate look inside his life, from Ulster boyhood to Brighton adulthood, exploring the experiences that shaped him and learning to move beyond them. It's a profoundly personal show, yet one that speaks to anyone about identity, growth and hurt.
In spite of how hard this one hits you, it's also wonderfully, weirdly funny, with Pete's unique turn of phrase shifting you through the full spectrum of emotions. This one really got me, just beautiful.
My favourite poem was the one about the pickles, though.
£8 - £10 Phoenix Art Space Thurs 19th May (TONIGHT!), Sat 20th and Sun 21st, 20.15