I’m sitting in the basement of Brighton Town Hall, home to the famous seaside resort’s old police cells. Last used in 1967, they are the very place they brought the Mods and Rockers to be charged after the infamous Brighton Beach bank holiday riots, back in the 1960s.
This is the venue for Killers, by Taggart creator Glenn Chandler. As director, I couldn’t have asked for a more atmospheric setting. The play is based on the letters of serial killers Ian Brady, Peter Sutcliffe and Dennis Nilsen, and the tiled walls of the old police cells could not be more appropriate.
It’s the first time I have been to the Brighton Fringe, which strikes me as a very different beast to our own annual arts festival, despite the fact that every few years there is a bout of scaremongering about the likes of Brighton or even Manchester stealing the Capital’s Festival crown.
Judging by what I see here, in the week that another bumper Edinburgh Fringe programme is launched, that’s not likely.
Yes, some of the shows may be the same (across the road, the Faulty Towers Dining Experience is playing the local Thistle Hotel ahead of another run at B’est, on Drummond Street, while Killers will, as has been reported, play the Assembly Rooms), but Brighton Fringe, hive of activity that it is, is just not on the same scale as what happens here every August.
For a start, there are far fewer shows, virtually no comedy, and you can walk down the street without having a flier shoved in your hand every two steps. But then they are strict on public fliering here. You’re in big trouble if you are caught handing out fliers on the street without having first obtained the correct licence.
What Brighton does have, however, is that buzz of excitement mixed with a laid-back charm that our own Fringe had before it became the huge corporate monster it is today.
And that’s what makes it so special. Let’s hope the Brighton Fringe doesn’t get too big - for its own sake, as much as ours.