Tonight was Brighton's chance to show the size of its heart – and its wallet. Heart of the Fringe was a special charity show for Clowns Without Borders presenting two and half hours of the best Fringe performers giving sneak peaks for a good cause. The evening was hosted by London based poet Laurie Bolger, whose chick-lit poetry was witty, but her compèring skills lacked focus. I guess it is safe to say that she did not steal the limelight from the acts.
The evening was a star-studded variety bill of cabaret, circus and music.
Luckily, the evening was a star-studded variety bill of cabaret, circus and music. We saw the Australian hula-hoop artist Chelsea Angell, currently strutting her stuff with the Head First Acrobats in Circus’Cision. From Head First Acrobats we also met Cal Harris, who wobbled on a tall ladder while juggling huge knives. A different daredevil routine was presented by magician Paul Zenon, the MC of La Clique, who took his pint for a death-defying spin.
If Monty Python is your thing, go and see The Establishment with Dan Lees and Neil Frost, two quintessential English gentlemen from a bygone era of cricket, tea and secret arms deals. Or you might prefer the charming, slightly raunchy, songbird Lucy Hopkins, who taught her male assistant a little French lesson. The powerhouse duet of Veronica Blacklace and Chris Hyde from Cabaret Boheme raised the roof with their showstopper Roxanne from Moulin Rouge. Another refreshing paring was Glenda & Rita, two Hollywood black and white divas trying to make sense of the modern technicolor world. We also caught a glimpse of Alfie Ordinary’s extraordinary life from his Help! I Think I Might Be Fabulous routine.
When picking favourites, I always bet on black: Laurie and Joe Black. Laurie Black is still doing her hit show of last year Bad Luck Cabaret but also the more intimate Laurie Black: Live. Tonight she captivated the audience with a no frills version of the Nine Inch Nails classic Hurt. I have never heard it performed by a female vocalist and I hope I never will again after this – so perfect was her rendition. The other master of powerful emotions was of course Joe Black looking like a demented goth version of May West. His medley raised high expectations for his show Touch of Evil: A Celebration of Villainy in Song.
The charity in the spotlight tonight was Clowns Without Borders, an international nonprofit organisation that sends clowns and performers to communities affected by war around the world. They work hard to provide support to traumatised children through play and laughter. Cathy Hayward gave a heart-wrenching talk about how Clowns Without Borders is giving hope to children who have long forgotten how to be children in warzones. The world could use a lot more of clowns like these instead of the ones in power right now.
Sadly, the charity aspect of the evening was not fully utilised. There were raffle tickets, but nothing else to spend your money on: where were the t-shirts, CD's, tassels, red noses or whatever the acts normally peddle? So Brighton, just because you missed this one-night-only charity show doesn’t mean you can’t support the good cause. Search for Clowns Without Borders UK and show you too have a heart.