Bacon Knees and Sausage Fingers at Alphabetti

Maybe it’s my vegetarianism, but the title of this show really put me off, as did some of the artwork: I loved the ‘minifig’ poster (see below) but pictures of blokes with bacon hanging from their knees made me think this was going to be some absurdist farce, which is very much not my thing. However, I was lined up to review it (see here), so dutifully went along – and am very glad I did, because it’s a corker of a show.

I always like Alphabetti: the bar is friendly, welcoming and lined with books (and they have a dog!). They put on an interesting programme of shows, and seem very committed to nurturing local writers – each week of the Bacon Knees run has a ‘reaction piece’ commissioned to be performed right after it. It’s a shame that my schedule has prevented me from going more since I have got back, and that everything I have wanted to see – and there have been a few shows on my radar – has been some sort of scheduling clash.

Based on this show, I am missing out. It’s a darkly funny and often moving look at the lives of two misfits, with strong performances and sharp, tight writing. At only an hour long it never outstays its welcome, and even with the aftershow I was home by 10 – not bad for a week night! They are also offering Pay What You Feel, making the show accessible to even the most straitened finances: get yourselves along!

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Cuddling at Alphabetti

One of my oft-stated reasons for relocating was to reconnect with the local arts scene, and one of the venues I was most excited to visit was Alphabetti.

Everything I had read about this little theatre seemed right up my alley – a commitment to community and new writing and a slightly ramshackle ‘let’s do the show right here’ vibe. I admit, I was seeking something to replace my beloved Marlborough in Brighton (and given that an upcoming show is entitled Seymour Mace Gets Sucked Off By God, I had high hopes).

On first visit, I was not disappointed. The location threw me slightly – it’s in a building I used to walk past every day from my mum’s, which triggered one of those unexpected emotional wobbles that seem to constantly ambush me these days. But inside, it’s a delight.

Since bookshelves and fairy lights are basically my core aesthetic, it will come as little surprise I loved it. The bar is compact and cosy (the rain meant the outdoor seating wasn’t getting much love), and the bookshelves offer a range of preloved books for swap or sale, or to browse at your leisure: I get the feeling this is the sort of place you wouldn’t get dirty looks if you hunkered down for the afternoon with a book and a brew.

The staff are friendly: when I asked if I was allowed to take my drink in, the response was ‘we encourage it’, which won them points. The toilets are labelled ‘sitting down’ and ‘standing up’, thereby smartly embracing gender inclusivity while also removing the risk of accidentally walking in on some stranger with their cock out at a urinal (I am looking at you, Marlborough!)

There was also a dog wandering freely, which is very much a Brighton vibe and one I approve of. (Apologies for slightly crappy picture).

The show I saw was by new company Circ Motif. (You can read my review here). Called The Art of Cuddling and other things, it was a pleasing mix of dance and humour by a personable bunch, though my experience was hampered slightly by poor sightlines and a slightly smelly studio (or slightly smelly audience member – there was some debate about this amongst my fellow travellers as we left). But it was exactly the kind of show you want from this sort of venue: unusual, offbeat, a little challenging and blessedly short, and it’s a company I will be keeping an eye on.

I’m already planning my return visit.