Theatre continues to lead the way in the feminist recasting of history as Lizzie Milton’s 10 introduces more forgotten heroines at the VAULT Festival
“Does that count for nothing?
Do I count for nothing”
Stuck at Six? Try 10. The truth is, sadly, that there are endless women whose histories have been misrepresented, or not even told but thankfully, there does seem to be a desire to tell those stories right now, accompanied by an appetite for them to be seen. Six is nominated for five Oliviers, Emilia has transferred into the West End and other shows at the VAULT such as The Limit have also got in on the act.
And why wouldn’t this be the case. Pretty much half of history has gone untold, unexplored, under-represented in our textbooks and in our culture, so it stands to reason that there’s acres of potential here. Lizzie Milton’s 10 identifies ten such women from across the centuries and across many disciplines, from medieval Mercian queens to Second World War heroines, abolitionists to painters, this is our real history. Continue reading “Review: 10, VAULT Festival”
Invisible Cabaret – Let’s Get Visible tackles mental health awareness through the medium of burlesque at the VAULT Festival
“You can feel whatever you want to feel, within reason”
One of the more pronounced trends at this year’s VAULT Festival has been a multiplicity of work promoting mental health awareness, both in and outside of the officially curated Let’s Talk strand. There’s still a long way to go in fully destigmatising conversations about these difficult topics but it is gratifying to see so many creative dedicated to the cause.
Among that group is Invisible Cabaret, a cabaret and burlesque troupe whose show Let’s Get Visible is tackling these taboos in their own inimitable style. And though burlesque may not seem like the most obvious artform in which to do so, it proves surprisingly effective here, not least in the skilled compering from Rosie Verbose and her magnificent headpiece. Continue reading “Review: Invisible Cabaret – Let’s Get Visible, VAULT Festival”
The Owle Schreame’s A Midsummer Night’s DROLL is a supremely silly and highly enjoyable Shakespearean adaptation at the VAULT Festival
“This is the silliest stuff that I ever heard”
The Owle Schreame’s A Midsummer Night’s DROLL begins with a bit of a lecture, informing us how theatre survived during the Puritans’ purge, by going underground. Rough and ready adaptations of plays, called drolls, were performed guerilla-style – anticipating today’s pop-up theatre festivals…?! – wherever there was a Will and a way.
And once the intro is out of the way, we dive headlong into this raucous version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, claimed as the oldest surviving adaptation of a Shakespeare play. With its focus almost entirely on the Rude Mechanicals, it is huge amounts of fun, full of songs, silliness and a real commitment to the value of crowd-pleasing entertainment. Continue reading “Review: A Midsummer Night’s DROLL, VAULT Festival”
Sarah Milton’s Lucy Light is a powerful tale of female friendship tested to the max at the VAULT Festival
“You don’t have to do any of this on your own”
Is it wrong to like Atomic Kitten’s cover of ‘The Tide is High’? I suspect the answer would be a resounding yes for most people but for Lucy and Jess, two teenage girls from a northern seaside town, (and let’s face it, me), they’ve even got the dance routine from the video down pat, complete with brilliantly improvised wind machine.
They’ve just finished their GCSEs and life ought to be hunky dory but Lucy’s mum has got breast cancer, casting a shadow not only over this summer but over the next ten years as we see in Lucy Light. For the genetics of the c word, particularly when BRCA 1 is concerned, is a bastard but Lucy is prepared to make some tough decisions. Continue reading “Review: Lucy Light, VAULT Festival”
Pufferfish is a complex, nuanced, deeply disturbing play about Jeffrey Dahmer and his crimes at the VAULT Festival
The necessities of quick get-ins and -outs at the VAULT Festival means that not unreasonably, many a show’s design has relied upon easily packable archive boxes. Clearly, Charlotte Espiner didn’t get the memo as her design for Pufferfish makes for hugely impressive impact on entrance to the Cage with its suspended marble effect torsos and plinth.
Nick Bruckman’s play (of which I was allowed to attend a preview) takes a riveting and spine-chilling fresh look at Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer responsible for the death and dismemberment of 17 young men in the 1980s. Pushing past lurid headlines, Pufferfish seeks to try and understand something of the man as well as the murderer, delving deep not only into his psychology but into that of his victims too. Continue reading “Review: Pufferfish, VAULT Festival”
The Limit is a hugely impressive new musical from Freya Smith and Jack Williams at the VAULT Festival
“One spark is all you need”
Ooh, a real treat this. The world of new musical theatre can be a little unforgiving but on the evidence of The Limit, Freya Smith and Jack Williams’ Bottle Cap Theatre are marking themselves as ones to watch out for. Their musical celebrates the unsung life and unheralded achievements of French mathematician Sophie Germain and it does so with real spirit and success.
The DNA of shows like Hamilton and Six are certainly palpable here, in a refreshingly contemporary approach to its historical subject and to be frank, these are fantastic influences to be drawing from. It instantly imbues the relationships and happenings with a relatability that speaks just as much truth (if not more) than any rendition of ‘historical accuracy’ could hope for. Continue reading “Review: The Limit, VAULT Festival”
Witch please! Holly Morgan: Is A Witch, Get Her! is some comedy that makes you think at the VAULT Festival
“Write a funny story about witches they said…”
Pass it round, Holly Morgan: Is A Witch, Get Her! An innocuous schoolyard taunt serves as the starting point for a veritable odyssey of discovery for Morgan as she seeks to reclaim the word from its long and troubled history. And as we find out, it is a history that is as often appalling as it is surprising, though accompanied by her new husband Tom Moores (in a fetching black catsuit, natch) and some hefty vocal power, it’s an entirely engaging journey.
In some ways, the show serves as an interesting companion piece to Call Me Fury seen earlier at this year’s VAULT Festival, also seeking to reappraise societal interpretations of witchcraft with a musical twist. Morgan’s comic grounding clearly directs the show in a different direction but there’s still something so compelling about looking at the many ways the patriarchy has abused the term in order to maintain the status quo. Continue reading “Review: Holly Morgan: Is A Witch, Get Her!, VAULT Festival”
A post-modern take on porn and patriarchy, I can’t help but want to be finished off better by Wood at the VAULT Festival
The hour long timeslots of the VAULT Festival mean that although there’s a lot of great theatre on offer, there isn’t always the greatest adventurousness with form. Which is only fair, if you’ve got to be in and out in 50-odd minutes and keep your audience with you, there’s precious little time to get tricksy.
Which makes Adam Foster’s Wood all the more impressive for its formal daring in its metatheatrical layers. And speaking of going in and out, it’s a play about porn and the patriarchy. It’s also about power dynamics and the past and whether we’ve really made any progress in the face of the straight, white, male hegemony. Continue reading “Review: Wood, VAULT Festival”
For me, i will still be whole (when you rip me in half) ends up plagued by some problematic directorial choices at the VAULT Festival
“I should have gone with her”
There’s something inevitably perverse that it isn’t a show in the aptly named Cavern that proves to be the first directorial mis-step that I get at this year’s VAULT Festival, but rather one in the comparative intimacy of the Pit next door. Wrapping the audience around all four walls has its definite advantages in establishing a certain kind of relationship with the audience but Helen Morley’s production crucially sacrifices a huge amount of audibility in doing so.
And again, you can kind of see why the choice was made. The nature of Ava Wong Davies’ writing in i will still be whole (when you rip me in half) lends itself directly to the ruminative and muted. And as it takes the form of two monologues that wind ever closer, the movement of the two actors reflects both the emotional distance that exists and the way that it fluctuates. But the hushed delivery and static nature of many a scene proved fatal to actually hearing much of the text when presented with an actor’s back. Continue reading “Review: i will still be whole (when you rip me in half), VAULT Festival”
Pushing the boundaries of improv beyond the mortal realm, How To Date a Magical Creature is a comic highlight at this week’s VAULT Festival
Sometimes you just have to murder David Attenborough””
The beauty of improv is, of course, that you can make up anything you like and so it follows that you can base an improv show around anything. Which is, I think, how we’ve ended up with How To Date a Magical Creature, a Parky-style chat show with a guest list made up of an array of fantastical beasts suggested by the audience .
And from their imagination at this show, were plucked such luminaries as the Loch Ness Monster with wings, an ethnically ambiguous unicorn, and the Mongolian deathworm, not to mention Turnip the teenage witch and Hades. An eclectic and impressive mixture, all put through their paces by effortlessly charismatic host Toby Vanilla (Jonah Fazel), a man who knows just what his voice can do… Continue reading “Review: How To Date a Magical Creature, VAULT Festival”