- April 8, 2014
The best of the fest
Theatre, music, books and acrobatics – Brighton Festival has it all
On Balance – The Wonderful World of Abstraction by Jakob Dahlgren Pic: Pirje Mykknen
Brighton Festival 2014 has been described as particularly genre defying thanks to the fact that acclaimed choreographer, musician, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter will take the role of its Guest Director. With such a tantalising choice of quality performance, we delve into the bold and the beautiful, the bawdy and the biographic ahead of the three week arts bonanza!
Although rooted in children’s street theatre, The Epicene Butcher And Other Stories For Consenting Adults (19–21 May) is definitely not one for kids. Hilarious, profane and utterly original, the show features seven original stories that run the gamut from pornography to epic poetry, from the silly to the sublime. Having won awards from Amsterdam to Adelaide, The Sunday Times has declared the show ‘storytelling at its absolute best’.
The absurdity continues in Long Live The Little Knife (14–15 May); a dynamic, boisterous and uplifting theatre piece about forgery, castration and blind drunkenness that sees a husband and wife team of forgers caught in a turf war over fake vintage handbags. Desperate to find £250k in protection money, they decide to up their game and become the world’s greatest art forgers. There’s only one problem. They can’t paint.
The Epicene Butcher And Other Stories For Consenting Adults Pic: Dean Hutton
Belgian choreographer and film director Wim Vandekeybus is noted for his visceral performance and productions; it’s no surprise to hear that Hofesh Shechter cites him as an influence on his own work. In his latest piece Talk To The Demon (13–14 May), which makes its UK debut at Brighton Festival, Vandekeybus turns his attention to the innocence of children and the demons present in our everyday lives in a thrilling and mesmerising fashion.
Best known for his biography of French writer Jean Genet – for which he won the National Book Critics Circle Award – master memoirist Edmund White (25 May) has delved into his own diaries for his latest book Inside A Pearl. Following on from a trilogy of autobiographical novels – A Boy’s Own Story, The Beautiful Room Is Empty and The Farewell Symphony – this latest work recalls the sexiest and most exciting times in his life: the 15 years he spent living in Paris. In this special Festival event, White will discuss his love affair with the city whilst in conversation with the writer and broadcaster Simon Fanshawe.
Award-winning British journalist Lynn Barber explores her own compelling sense of nosiness in this year’s New Writing South Annual Lecture (24 May) by focusing on the celebrity interview. Drawing from her early years as a journalist at Penthouse through to her time interviewing comedians, film stars and musicians for national newspapers, the evening promises to be a fascinating and insightful look into the lives of celebrities and the changing world of journalism.
Classical music aficionados certainly mustn’t miss the New London Consort’s musical voyage into the mysterious realms of The Tempest in a highly original celebration of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. As one of the world’s leading early music ensembles, their The Tempest In Musick (16 May) features all the music written for the 17th and early 18th century revivals of the play – from Purcell’s exquisite Masques Of Devils to Humfrey and Weldon’s Neptune & Amphitrite – for the first time in one concert.
Loosely based on Anne Ducamp’s illustrated tale Petit Jules, Brussels-based performance company Feria Musica present a sublime take on contemporary circus arts with new creative production Sinué (21–22 May). Featuring stunning acrobatics and movement, the performance follows Jules and his four imaginary alter-egos; all intrepid and interdependent occupants of a mysteriously leaning tree, itself a vertical playground amidst a forest of ropes and shadows. Accompanied by a live palette of chaotic sounds and wobbly rhythms, it will be a spellbinding display of elegant acrobatic skill.
Brighton Festival wouldn’t be the same without its free, large-scale outdoor performances, and 2014 promises two such events. The first, Metro-Boulot-Dodo’s Safe House (17 May) takes place in Hove Park, and features an incredible mix of huge projections, site-specific installations and awe-inspiring aerial displays. The second, Tangled Feet’s One Million (23–24 May), looks set to light up the night sky as pyrotechnics, explosive physical theatre and visual effects fuse with poetry and live music transform Madeira Drive’s Black Rock Car Park into a truly unforgettable live performance.
Don’t forget to stop by Fabrica as Swedish artist Jacob Dahlgren celebrates the aesthetic of the mass-produced object in a special Brighton Festival co-commission called On Balance (3–25 May). Comprised of two works, visitors can lose themselves in a block of colour created by thousands of metres of hanging ribbon in The Wonderful World Of Abstraction or explore the relationship between body and object by interacting with over 700 sets of bathroom scales in Heaven Is A Place On Earth.
Brighton Festival 2014 runs from Saturday 3–Sunday 25 May. For more information and tickets, visit brightonfestival.org or call 01273 709709.