Future Pub Review

Brighton Fringe

Company: Small Acts

Venue: The Fleapit, One Church, Gloucester Place, Brighton

Written and performed by Katie Etheridge and Simon Persighetti

If you had to name a Great British Institution that is under threat, it is likely your local pub would sit high in the rankings.

We shown into a small circus – style tent (Miracle Theatre’s bijou Fleapit Theatre) pitched within the One Church, within which was the set; a re-creation of a local pub where we were entertained with pub banter, live music, poetry and even a real pub quiz. In a nice touch, the quiz master was audience member Miles Jenner, the real-life Head Brewer from the Harvey’s brewery in nearby Lewes (Talking to him afterwards, he told me that he enjoyed the play so much that he would like to put it on in the Brewery’s own performance space.)

Through a mixture of performance and televised interviews with locals from the threatened (and, ultimately, saved) Seven Stars pub in the actors’ home town Penryn, Cornwall, we were reminded of the essential community nature of a local pub and invited to share our hopes and fears for it’s future by writing down our thoughts on beermats.

Where it was, perhaps, less successful was in its imaginings of what a future pub might look like. Introducing an element of time-travel through the ‘Beer Portal’ we met the Robot Barman and the all-too-familiar Property Developer. This section had something of the feel of Children’s TV and, although enjoyable, was not really convincing.

What was missing altogether was any discussion of why pubs are in danger (apart from references to the closures and social distancing rules which occurred in Lockdown). Although the play was not meant to be a documentary, nevertheless, looking at these issues has to be central to the future of the community space we know as the Local Pub.

Whilst not altogether successful in conjuring up a ‘Future’ pub or asking/answering questions about why the future of pubs appears to be in danger, this was still a welcome and enjoyable call to arms to respect and protect an aspect of community life that many of us hold dear and is disappearing rapidly.


Sue Bradley