I was very excited to go to Brighton Fringe, since I started planning with the Arts Award crew way back in Winter. It didn't matter if it was months away, it's been our first Fringe festival of the season and it felt like a breath of fresh air. Walking along the seaside from Hove to the Brighton Laines, I just kept thinking how lucky I was to be there. The beaming sunshine for opening weekend helped to boost the mood in Brighton, and not just for Fringe-goers; everyone seemed to be making the most of even small breaks in the sun.
Even though it was incredibly fun, Brighton Fringe was also a challenging experience as a reviewer, especially coming first-time to a Fringe. Orientating myself in a new city and quickly moving from venue to venue was daunting. However, it is easy to get comfortable and set your rhythm in this friendly city, if you're willing to reach out. I found that it helped so much that I wasn't afraid to ask for information; festival staff, volunteers, bus drivers, even one friendly lady in a cafe (who did, albeit, hugely misjudge the times she gave me!). I was helped about almost everything, from where to find a socket, to where to sit for a coffee on a short break. It may sound silly, but these are the kind of things that can really change how smoothly the day runs.
After you begin to recognise the key venues and move around a little easier without a map, you can actually immerse yourself completely in the Fringe. What Brighton creates in this month is an alternative world, where art forms dominate the city. I have learnt that every corner can be converted into a venue: from posh hotels to private houses in the hills, from the communal gardens to the main theatre at the Warren. Several bars and pubs host smaller shows as well, and they all come with their own merits. My best memories are connected with Bar Broadway, where I felt very emotional hearing Jason Thorpe's fantastic renditions of famous songs from musicals. This was definitely my Fringe highlight.
You might think that reviewing shows by yourself is a lonely experience, but very often it turns out to be the opposite. Walking around alone in the city and seeing different shows gave me the opportunity to interact with people more than I expected. I often had enjoyable chats with producers of the shows and exchanged thoughts with other members of the audience. It is very hard not to miss this creative hub, not to feel the void afterwards. Nevertheless, I like to think that Brighton Fringe has left a positive mark on me. I am now even more eager to keep on hunting out art on the fringes, and of course, to head back to B'ton next year.
Brighton Fringe runs until 5 June 2016. brightonfringe.org