Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Brighton Festival

by Daisy Jordan
For Brightonians, May is all about the Festival and Festival Fringe. This being the first May I’ve lived in Brighton it’s all been very new to me – it really has been a rollercoaster month of fun, disappointment and awe. I’m sure you’re thinking ‘it’s a festival, how hard can it be?’ but, as friends did point out, there is definitely a knack you have to get. I wasn’t going to let them burst my bubble for me, so I stubbornly learnt the lessons all on my own!

Lesson number one: don’t assume that because something is described as ‘free’ in the programme it means you will be able to see it! One outdoor event, ‘Lil’ Red Ridin’ Hoodie’ started forty-five minutes late, and by the time the performers eventually emerged I was so cold and annoyed I was already up and on my way home. Great start to the month.
At ‘Gramoulinophone’ I arrived to find out the event was free but ticketed and there were only a limited number of tickets available. Needless to say, I didn’t get one. It seems you have to be really on the ball, or just accept you’re always going to have to pay to guarantee your entertainment.

Lesson number two: go in with an open mind. ‘Bloody Cinderella’ sounded amazing in the programme, and right up my street. Sadly, the performance felt like a rehearsal and the stage was way too small for the cast. It was too haphazard to allow you to get lost in the story, which was a real shame. It being the first thing I paid to see during the festival, I felt pretty let down and dreading the rest.
On the other hand, ‘The Boutique’ didn’t sound as unconventional or avant-garde as some of the other things I was more interested in seeing, but it blew me away – it was funny, sensitive and thought-provoking, and I had a really fun night out!

Lesson number three: expect the unexpected. Daisy Jordan’s puppet play ‘Orson and Valentine’ was the highlight of the festival for me. I thought it would be a folktale told with shadow puppets, maybe with a narrator or voice cast…the reality was even better. Yes, there were a few shadow puppets, but the bulk of it involved performers moving brilliantly detailed puppets around on stage, acting out the story to a continuous soundtrack provided by a small string orchestra tucked away in a corner. It was intimate and very moving – after getting over the initial awkwardness of trying to watch the puppets instead of the performers I was completely absorbed. If anyone has a chance to check out her work I would highly recommend it!

‘Orson & Valentine’ has really left me feeling positive and inspired. It’s great to see that new and original takes on old stories are still being created.

And what’s more, it’s left me feeling excited for next year. Now that I’ve learnt the hard way there’ll be no chance of anything spoiling my fun! (weather permitting…)

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