Comedy seems to be the largest category with a line-up that includes Gina Yashere, Mark Steel, Jimeoin, Nick Helm, Brian Gittins and, the wonderfully-titled sketch group Late Night Gimp Fight. On the fringe comedy circuit it seems that no subject is sacred, and many shows are not for the easily offended. Events such as Shaggers, A Night of Jokes About That Most Joyous of Pursuits and Eat a Queer Foetus 4 Jesus illustrate this.
Theatre is also prominent in the programme with plays by Shakespeare, Wilde, Sondheim, Pinter and Wesker measuring up against new works such as Napoleon: A Defence in which clowns fight the Napoleonic Wars, the allegory White Rabbit, Red Rabbit by Iranian writer Nassim Soleimanpour (which is performed by a different actor every night) and Feral Theatre’s Triptych which mixes puppetry, physical theatre and aerial skills to tell tales of freedoms lost, love destroyed and transformations amongst the trees.
In the cabaret programme there are the award-winning Bourgeois and Maurice, the legendary Lynn Ruth Miller and BBC Radio 1’s King of Cabaret Des O’Connor. That’s as well as the very welcome return of the amazing Ladyboys of Bangkok who perform two shows on almost every day of the festival, always to capacity crowds if past experience is anything to judge by.
Onto the dance stage steps Eau Eau 7, performing at the Prince Regent Pool, in which the synchronised swimmers of Brighton celebrate fifty years of James Bond. Rhum and Clay Theatre Company bring absurdist humour and innovative physical theatre to the Old Courtroom, another of the many and varied venues used during the festival.
Brighton Fringe 2012 also boasts the biggest kids’ festival ever with puppets, comedy and storytelling . There’s a literature programme which includes In Conversation with Tony Benn, a Charles Dickens cabaret to celebrate his bicentenary and the distinguished US academic George Ritzer.
The range of music encapsulates about every genre one can think of with highlights including Cubana Bop playing music from West Side Story, Impact Opera’s pared-down production of Carmen and the Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus who perform Guilty Treasures, the search for the ultimate gay song.
In addition to venue-led work, there are a host of site-specific activities including a production of Coward’s Private Lives at the Grand Hotel, the Racecourse Project in which New Writing South, Natural Shocks, Hydrocracker and ten writers take audiences on a promenade journey through turnstile, tipster and tote at Brighton Racecourse and Tube Light Theatre Company’s Single Cell, a dark tale which takes place in the Old Police Cell Museum.
Finally, there is also the amazing Fringe City, Brighton’s free outdoor showcase of performances. In 2011, over 40,000 people attended Fringe City over three days of performances, stalls, sideshows, dance-offs, acrobatic balloonists, roaming choirs, mechanical horses and surreal walkabout performers. Fringe City 2012 will take place on every Saturday throughout May in the New Road area of Brighton.
Set in a city with a unique heritage that has set the pace, diversity, creativity and innovative thinking locally, nationally and beyond, Brighton Fringe 2012 does really seem to be set to become the most memorable in its history.