Brighton Festival 2015 took place in the city from Saturday 2 until Sunday 24 May. With award-winning writer Ali Smith as this year’s Guest Director, it featured 396 performances that took place across 150 events, including 42 exclusives, premieres and commissions. It was a whirlwind of fun and frolics. We pick five shows we loved and a few you should not miss…

WE LOVED

The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler Born in Glasgow, Ivor Cutler was a wholehearted eccentric. He stood alone as the only artist to have been played on Radios 1, 2, 3 and 4, championed by John Peel, signed by all the major record labels, and influenced The Beatles. The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler – a production by the ever inventive Vanishing Point in collaboration with the National Theatre of Scotland – weaves together the music, prose, poetry and biography of this remarkable figure to tell the story of his life in amusical and visual journey; from birth, through boyhood, to old age and death. I was curious to see this show and wasn’t disappointed to watch the celebration of a unique Scottish artist in what The Guardian describes as a ‘big grin of a show’. Keep your eyes peeled for the next time this show is on.

WE WILL BE WATCHING

The Sagas of Noggin the Nog Theatre Royal Brighton, Sat 23 & Sun 24 May, 5pm (Sat & Sun), 11am & 2pm (Sun), tickets from £5 In the Lands of the North where the black rocks stand guard against the cold sea, in the dark night that is very long, the Men of the Northlands sit around their great log fires and tell a tale… of Noggin the Nog! In this new stage version of the cult 1960’s children’s TV show, the classic stories created by Oliver Postgate & Peter Firmin are playfully retold courtesy of Third Party and Mischievous Theatre. Follow Noggin – accompanied by the brave and mighty Thor Nogson and the great green bird Graculus – on a journey of adventure & discovery to battle the fearsome Ice Dragon and thwart the dastardly plans of Noggin’s wicked uncle; Nogbad the Bad! Perfect theatre for children, families and fans.


WE LOVED

Beyond Having stunned Brighton Festival crowds in 2013 with How Like an Angel thanks to some jaw-dropping aerial work in All Saints Church in Hove, the Australian contemporary circus company returned to the city with an equally as enthralling show. Fusing dynamic circus acts like trapeze and Chinese pole with cheeky feats of strength, some Rubik’s Cubes and multiple bunny heads, to a bewitching mix of show tunes, ballads and electronica. Warm, surreal and unexpectedly moving, Beyond was an amazing show that appealed to all ages, delighting and enchanting in equal measure.

WE LOVED

Anna Calvi She counts everyone from Django Reinhardt to Debussy as influences, has been critically lauded by former Brighton Festival Guest Director Brian Eno and toured with the likes of Grinderman and Interpol – no surprise then to read that she’s been described as ‘a modern guitar hero of exceptional talent’. Her latest album One Breath saw Calvi in a reflective mood – although that’s not to say her newer tunes lack any of the fiery elements that made her eponymous debut such a smash-hit. With two Mercury Prize nominations and a BRIT Award nomination under her belt, her live performances are an impassioned affair; packed with textured melodies and heavy crunching chords.

WE LOVED

Being Both Fresh from the sell-out success of Down by the Greenwood Side at last year’s Brighton Festival, Lewes-based director Susannah Water joined world-renowned mezzo-soprano Alice Coote for a theatrical journey into the heart of Handel’s sublime vocal music to explore – and challenge – the perception of gender. With Coote performing parts meant for both male and female singers, this Brighton Festival commission also featured some of the world’s leading Baroque and Classical specialists including orchestra The English Concert and conductor Harry Bickett. There was also a post-show discussion featuring both Coote and Waters alongside this year’s Brighton Festival Guest Director, the award-winning author Ali Smith.