thu 26/11/2020

The Warren Outdoor Season, Brighton review - creatives take to the beach | reviews, news & interviews

The Warren Outdoor Season, Brighton review - creatives take to the beach

The Warren Outdoor Season, Brighton review - creatives take to the beach

Performances in a pop-up theatre

The Warren Outdoor Season is on Brighton beach in sight of the Pier

The Warren is normally to be found in Brighton city centre, where it stages shows during the Brighton Fringe.

The Warren is normally to be found in Brighton city centre, where it stages shows during the Brighton Fringe. But there's nothing normal about 2020, so its organisers are now producing The Warren Outdoor Season at a pop-up space on Brighton beach, in sight of the Pier and the Brighton Zip, and it's reassuringly Covid-secure.

There's an obvious attention to detail: the well-spaced bench tables seat up to six and each has its own speaker, there's table service from the bar, plenty of loos and hand sanitisers, with a strictly (but politely) enforced one-way system in operation. And the surroundings supply their own pleasing sound effects of crashing waves and mewing seagulls.

The busy roster has theatre, improv, music, magic, children's shows and comedy (with the last curated by Komedia Krater Komedy club), and the festival has attracted some big names – Marcus Brigstocke, Rachel Parris and Jimmy Carr are doing shows later in the season.

The show I saw was Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's a franchise that has been running for 10 years, the basic premise being that a group of actors take turns to be plied with drink for several hours before the show starts (and more during it) to see how much of the script he or she will remember before either falling down or throwing up. (A bucket is provided downstage for just that purpose, thankfully not used on the night I visited.)

It sounds like a studenty jape, and I must confess I don't entirely see the point of watching someone becoming progressively more drunk on stage and murdering the Bard into the bargain – but we know that Elizabethan theatre audiences were probably rather less prissy than I.

The actors may be classically trained but classical Shakespeare it is not – this Dream barely ran to barely an hour with a cast of five and a master of revels, and was truncated to a few scenes involving the lovers and Puck, with a member of the audience supplying the Donkey's braying.

It certainly had its moments: there was a short discourse on the ruderies contained within Shakespeare ("die" in the text means having an orgasm) and some decent improv as the sober actors tried to bring proceedings back to the text as Helena (Beth-Louise Priestley, the drunk one) started rambling or calling them by their real names rather than their characters'. And while I'm sure most of the mistakes were real, the occasional one had the whiff of “here's one I prepared earlier”: “Fuck me, she's fucking dead,” said Helena as the sleeping Hermia (Briony Rawle) lay on the forest floor.

It was an overcast evening with a small crowd, but the company injected their performances with real energy.

The Warren Outdoor Season has something for everyone in its varied line-up, and the organisers have gone to great lengths to make the experience safe and fun for punters. It deserves to do well.

There was a short discourse on the ruderies contained within Shakespeare

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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