An image of the production 'Galatea' showing two performers on stage in a dystopian city environment with trees also visible

Theatre Highlights: Genre-defying Outdoor Theatre, Innovative Puppetry & a Flurry of Musicals

Theatre, Outdoor, Film

A 400 year old love story, a classic adventure retold with puppets and a hilarious satirical opera: read on to discover just some of the highlights of our theatre programme this May or explore the full theatre programme here.


Set in a world where gods walk among mortals, new Brighton Festival Commission Galatea was the inspiration for Shakespeare’s comedies and performed in front of Queen Elizabeth I more than 400 years ago. Now, award-winning theatre-maker Emma Frankland, Brighton’s Marlborough Productions and Cornish landscape theatre company Wildworks bring John Lyly’s tale of trans love, joy and the importance of welcoming outsiders to new audiences, outdoors in Shoreham-by-Sea from 6 to 21 May. Galatea is brought vividly to life by a mixed Deaf and hearing cast, with every performance in both English and British Sign Language, as well as being captioned and wheelchair accessible, and suitable for ages 8 and up.

On 13 and 14 May, ThirdSpace (formerly Windmill Young Actors) return to the Festival with a reimagining of the ancient Greek tragedy that reframes the classic revolt against authority as tribal youth versus a chorus of predatory corporatists. Bakkhai will be performed by a cast of more than 50 people aged 8 to 60 using the South Downs as a backdrop, with a soundtrack of thumping bass and rhythmic choral voices

Visual and performance artist Victoria Melody is passionate about other people’s passions. In her latest project, The Enthusiasts, she invites us into two relatively unknown communities for a site-specific audio experience: Funeral Directors (13-14 May), exploring Brighton’s death positivity community and tackling the taboos around talking about death; and Pigeon Fanciers (20-21 May), exploring the quiet realm of pigeon racing and the real-life characters keeping the tradition alive. Both audio performances will be held at secret locations across the city; one outdoors.

Sound On Stage

From 18 to 20 May, Abomination: A DUP Opera is a treat whether you’re an opera buff or a novice. An explosive, award-winning production by The Belfast Ensemble, conducted by acclaimed composer Conor Mitchell and with a cast including the internationally renowned soprano, Rebecca Caine, this wraps up drag, cabaret and political satire to critique one of the most notorious moments in queer Irish history, politician Iris Robinson’s homophobic attack on the radio in 2008. A powerful yet comic story of equality, packing a playful punch.

Also running from 18 to 20 May, Kidnapped is a riotous musical retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventure novella of the same name and is the latest project from the writer of the popular Pride & Prejudice (Sort Of), Isobel McArthur. Join 19-year-old Davie for a colourful coming of age story with humour and heart, as he navigates murderous foes, Jacobite outlaws and an inept crew of pirates, all set to a soundtrack of 20th century pop hits.

On 24 May, singer/songwriter Nadine Shah turns her talents to the stage for a unique collaboration with writer Jackie Thompson and theatre director Jack McNamara, To Be A Young Man. Inspired by her remarkable debut album Love Your Dum and Mad, To Be a Young Man gives dramatic life to the album’s themes and ideas. A story of chaos and recovery, unlikely friendships and unending creativity, it is full of gallows humour and is haunted by the sounds of Shah's unique musical universe. This performance also includes a special, pared back musical set from Shah herself.

Film & Literature Re-Imagined

On 7 May, Neil Bartlett directs actor Russell Tovey, performer Travis Alabanza, poet Joelle Taylor and writer Jay Bernard in BLUE NOW, a reimagining of Derek Jarman’s last film, Blue, which was released 30 years ago during the darkest days of Britain’s AIDS epidemic. This very special performance, which includes a new live score by the film’s original composer, Simon Fisher Turner, shares afresh Jarman’s inspiring message of compassion, love and dignity under fire.

From 25 to 27 May, the unique artistry of French-Norwegian theatre company Plexus Polaire brings Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick to life in an adaptation that features seven actors, fifty puppets, an enormous whale and a drowned orchestra. A tale of an extraordinary fishing expedition and an irresistible deep dive into the mysteries of life, this is suitable for ages 6 and up.

For the full theatre programme and to book tickets, click here.