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Brighton Nightlife

PUBLISHED: 16:27 06 October 2010 | UPDATED: 14:55 20 February 2013

The Marlborough Theatre

The Marlborough Theatre

Billed as the cultural capital of Sussex, Brighton has clubs, bars and venues to rival even London's glamorous scene. Ashley Bird visited five of the city's finest stages and met some of the people who know them best...


Sussex Life


Komedia is one of a chain of three cabaret venues (the others are in Bath and Edinburgh) and features three rooms which host comedy, music, dance and all sorts of other fantastical acts. On most nights there are at least two different shows within Komedia (meaning there are around 700 shows a year at the venue!) and frequently all three rooms will be packed at once. An overhaul last year has meant that it has now become a pivotal part of the Brighton scene, with a reputation not just for great performances but also excellent food from its caf and bars.

Nicky Mitchell - Singer/Guitarist, The Hepcat Huzzahs
"The Hepcat Huzzahs are the house band of the Kroon Kat Lounge, a swing and jazz night that runs every month here. I've been involved with the Kroon Kats since its first gig when it was at the Hanbury Ballroom. After about a year the club needed a bigger space, so they moved it here. The crowd for our club includes everyone from 18-year-old kids who are looking for something a bit sophisticated alongside the odd 93-year-old grandma who's come to see her granddaughter sing and that to me is fantastic."I always enjoy being at the Komedia, in fact sometimes it's frustrating when I'm working because I want to nip out and see something else that's on the same night. They put on so much interesting stuff here. The venue used to be over on Manchester Street but it was clear back then that the place wouldn't be big enough for the kind of things they wanted to be doing.

"I like the fact that Komedia has maintained its integrity in terms of the kinds of acts they put on. Everything is interesting but accessible. The crew are awesome, too, they're always happy and smiling and looking after everyone. It's a great place to be."


Komedia, 44 Gardner Street, Brighton. Call 01273 647100 or see www.komedia.co.uk for more information


The Marlborough Theatre
A tiny 'fringe' theatre above a gay pub just off the Old Steine, the Marlborough is a hidden gem. It's best known for its excellent comedy nights including the regular Rabbit in the Headlights shows featuring new talent, one-off shows by national stand-ups such as Daniel Kitson and Robin Ince, plus the annual Comedy Festival Fringe. It is also the spiritual home of The Maydays, one of the most respected improvisational comedy outfits in the country. Not a bad reputation for a venue that holds just 50 people.

Rebecca MacMillan - The Maydays
"I came to Brighton in 2003 and took up improv classes on the recommendation of a friend. The classes were run by John Cremer, who soon saw the potential and set up The Mayday Players - now just called The Maydays. We did our very first performance here at the Marlborough in 2004. It went brilliantly. I'll never forget the feeling of getting my first laugh - I got bitten by the bug.

"The Maydays have come a long way since then. We're aiming to make Brighton the improv capital of the UK. We've just unveiled our new show - Mayday! The Musical - which is a musical extravanganza totally improvised from a title suggested by the audience.

"Performing at the Marlborough always feels like coming home, it's got such a cosiness, intimacy and friendliness. It's unique I should think, although it's only a 50-seater it has the same grandeur and the same trappings that go along with being a much bigger theatre. It has a real old-world charm - the plush curtains, the raised stage - things that many small venues don't have. We have had so many priceless little moments here, it's always fun."


The Marlborough, 4 Prince's Street, Brighton. Call 07782 278 521 or see www.marlboroughtheatre.co.uk for more info. For info on The Maydays' performances or how to join in the improv on one of their courses see www.themaydays.co.uk


Theatre Royal
This year is the 200th anniversary of the opening of Brighton's Theatre Royal, putting among the very oldest theatres in the UK. It is still the centrepiece of Brighton's arts scene - its grand old dame - and was recently visited by the Queen who saw a performance by city schoolchildren and soul singer Carleen Anderson. The theatre itself is actually made up of 11 intertwined buildings from Brighton's days as a fishing village and there is history etched into pretty much every wall.

Julian Boast - Chief executive, Theatre Royal
"I've been here five years. Before that I ran a scenery company in London. The Theatre Royal is one of the oldest working theatres in the country, though, so my time here is like a nanosecond in the life of this place really.


"I look at my job as half artistic leader and half like running a stately home, with all the problems and joy that brings. We've ploughed well over 2million into this building and there are still things to do - it's the most complicated set of buildings of any theatre in the country, some of it goes back to 1750. They're all separate little houses too, so it has a very domestic, intimate feeling. The circle bar was [former manageress] Mrs Nye Chart's front room. The stars' dressing room was a Georgian cottage.

"Actors love this place. It's known as 'the actors' theatre' because the relationship between the stage and the auditorium is so intimate. When Tim West did King Lear here, 80 per cent of the house was crying during the death scene.

"It is a wonderful place to come to work, mainly because of the team, which is one of the most unique I've ever worked with. They are so passionate about this building and what it does. Can a 200-year-old theatre continue into the future? Yes of course. All it needs is clever, talented people."


The Theatre Royal, New Road, Brighton. Call 08700 606 650 or see www.theambassadors.com/theatreroyal for more information.

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