Spiegeltent: Heart of the Fringe Show

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.

Reviews by Johanna Makelainen

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

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The Blurb

A special charity showcase for Clowns Without Borders with the very best Spiegeltent performers helping us kick off the season. A sparkling variety bill of cabaret, circus, music and more! Including surprise guests, Head First Acrobats, Joe Black and more. A one-night-only evening. Visit our website to stay tuned!

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