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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I do love the Brighton Festival fringe...

Arts Council Flat
... though I think the outside of the building could do with a lick of paint before they start on the ninth floor.

Anyhoo, I don't really have time to appreciate art in a council flat, because as anyone who's read my ridiculous schedule for May will know, last night was the start of my nine-shows-in-three-weeks cultural marathon. Lisa and I went to see The Brighton Moment at the Komedia, and may I say it was very good. Well, parts of it were very good. The bit I liked best was when we walked out after half an hour and went home.

If you read the Brighton Festival programme, or click on the link above, you'll see that the event is described thus:

"The brightest and glitteriest of the city's literati take over the Komedia Upstairs for a one night cabaret of bite-sized Brighton moments... Catch live contributions from Peter James, Jeff Noon, Julie Burchill... and others."

Now, I don't know about you, but to me that indicates something slightly more entertaining than a succession of people just reading aloud. It started well, when three people without microphones came out and read us a chapter of 'Brighton Rock' by Graham Greene. I've no idea why. I think they'd been going for about two minutes when Lisa whispered in my ear "How long shall we give it?". Frankly she was being generous. I'd been tempted to leave before they started. Mind you, we got off pretty lightly - just think how much worse it would have been if we could actually hear them.

To be fair, one of the writers we heard before we ran screaming from the place was quite amusing. David Bramwell, author of The Cheeky Guide to Brighton, read an entertaining tale about a seance, but the problem was that any moments of light relief were counterbalanced by the fact that we were in physical pain the whole way through. For some reason, the organisers had decided that everyone should sit around impossibly cramped tables like we were at some kind of awards ceremony for midgets, and seemed to think that as long as there was room to push twelve chairs under each table, then people would be able to sit down.

Having managed to find two spare seats by essentially climbing over people's shoulders, we (and by 'we' I mean a pregnant woman and a fat bloke) were expected to somehow squeeze ourselves into a six inch gap between the table and the backs of the chairs, before clashing knees with the other ten people wedged either side of us. And let's not forget that the seats at the Komedia aren't exactly comfortable to begin with. I felt like leaving the moment we sat down. And I would have done if I wasn't stuck fast.

Anyhoo, we managed to sit through six of the scheduled eighteen writers before making a bid for freedom. Each simply read aloud from something they'd written (which to me, isn't exactly cabaret). The exception to the rule was Julie Burchill. When it came to her turn, host Annabel Giles announced that Julie prefers to have an actress read her words, so instead of Ms Burchill taking to the stage, up stepped Jolie Pierce, a radical feminist who once ran a magazine called 'Flow - For Women Who Bleed'. I'm sorry, but when I pay £7.50 to hear a "live contribution from Julie Burchill" (and let's face it, she was the only famous person on the bill) I expect a bit more than just someone else reading aloud from her book.

We're going to see Mike Leigh tomorrow night. Or possibly just an actor who's seen one of his films.