2019 VAULT Festival – 20 shows to see

With less than a week to go before the 2019 VAULT Festival opens, I wade my way through the catalogue and come up with 20 shows I think you should catch – in their own words

Now in its seventh year, VAULT Festival returns this year from 23rd January to 17th March with a broad and diverse programme of more than 400 shows in a range of atmospheric venues throughout Waterloo. And as ever, the remit is to be as big and bold as impossible, with the festival featuring theatre, comedy, cabaret, immersive experiences, late night parties, and much more besides.

It can be a little overwhelming to figure out what you want to see, the majority of shows run for a week (Wednesday to Sunday) so you’ll need to move pretty sharpish once you’ve decided – there’s the VAULT Combo deal which saves you money booking more than one show, and some 241 deals available through the Stagedoor app. And to help you, I’ve identified 20 shows (and it could have been so many more!) that appealed to me and asked them to sell themselves in 10 words or less in order to grab your attention.  Continue reading “2019 VAULT Festival – 20 shows to see”

Review: Tom and Bunny Save the World, VAULT Festival

Fat Rascal impress once again with Tom and Bunny Save the World at the VAULT Festival

“Tinder’s not working, Deliveroo too”

With their last couple of shows (BUZZ and Beauty and the Beast), Fat Rascal really have established themselves as a company to watch, delivering musical comedies with a fresh and feminist bent. So I was keen to see their latest show – Tom and Bunny Save the World – in the final week of the VAULT Festival.

Seen in Edinburgh last summer and now embarking on quite the UK tour, Tom and Bunny… sees them turn their hand to the underserved zombie apocalypse folk musical genre (who knew?!).  And as our titular heroes flee London for the safe haven of t’north, their hopes of survival depend on, well, how many zombie films they’ve seen so that they can borrow the advice! Continue reading “Review: Tom and Bunny Save the World, VAULT Festival”

Review: Lock and Key, VAULT Festival

Lock and Key, VAULT Festival

A bitesize new musical from Barlow & Smith at the VAULT Festival, Lock and Key asks how bloody far will you go to succeed in the office…

“Don’t you use my little red key”

A nippy little thing this,  Lock and Key. A new musical from writing duo Barlow & Smith, a couple of cracking musical theatre actresses in Tiffany Graves and Evelyn Hoskins, and the sweaty intimacy of the Pit, one of the VAULT Festival’s less hospitable spaces. It all adds up to something really rather entertaining.

Set in the children’s literature department of a publishing firm, office junior Jess is doing everything she can to impress boss Samantha as the end of her probationary period fast approaches. She’s even missing her birthday party in order to seize a key opportunity but she soon finds out that that is not all she will have to sacrifice to make it to the top. Continue reading “Review: Lock and Key, VAULT Festival”

Review: Things That Do Not C(o)unt, VAULT Festival

Things that do not count, VAULT Festival

An uncompromising look at a personal feminist odyssey, Things That Do Not C(o)unt plays the final week of VAULT Festival

“There’s always a stranger
And there’s always vodka”

I was a big fan of No Offence Theatre’s torn apart (dissolution) so the opportunity to catch their new show Things That Do Not C(o)unt in the final week of the VAULT Festival was one I was keen not to pass up. Written and performed by Nastazja Somers and co-created with Bj McNeill, it probes away at some of the key recurring themes that emerged in this festival.

Society’s expectations of women, and its expectations of how young women should deal with their nascent sexuality. Body image and the uneasy relationship that it inculcates with food. But there’s also a deeply personal vein to this show as well. Partly autobiographical in nature, Somers presents and investigates her Polish heritage too, exploring that impact too. Continue reading “Review: Things That Do Not C(o)unt, VAULT Festival”

Review: Glitter Punch, VAULT Festival

Glitter Punch, VAULT Festival, London

What a play! Lucy Burke’s Glitter Punch proves an absolute highlight of London’s VAULT Festival, Emily Stott also makes herself a name to watch.

“It’s me and you, against the world – John and Molly”

Oh I haven’t wanted to walk out of a show this much in ages. In the best possible way, you understand. The relationship at the heart of Glitter Punch is a thing of absolute wonder, as written by Lucy Burke and acted so damn well perfectly by Emily Stott, I just didn’t want it to end. And if I had walked out, it would have been a happy ending for everyone and everything would have been golden.

But life is rarely like that. And when the punch to the gut comes – and by God is there a punch to the guts, two in fact – the weight of the world comes crashing down and you’re left re-evaluating everything you’ve just seen. The little details that didn’t quite jibe, the inconsistencies that felt a little odd, things you barely noticed suddenly become clear. The certainties you held, thrown up in the air as they’re uncompromisingly tested. Continue reading “Review: Glitter Punch, VAULT Festival”

Review: Das Fest, VAULT Festival

Das Fest, VAULT Festival, London

My kind of Viennese whirl – Philipp Oberlohr’s chilled-out Das Fest at the VAULT Festival proves mind-boggling once again

“To celebrate properly, you have to invest your self”

If you could read my mind, you’d know that I’m a sceptic when it comes to the world of magic and mind-reading. But if you really could read my mind, you’d also know that there’s a tiny part of me that wants to believe, even though I know smokes and mirrors and something-or-other must be involved somehow.

Last year at the VAULT Festival though, Philipp Oberlohr came as close as anyone has to converting to the cause with his show Das Spiel. And the news that he was returning with a sequel of sorts – Das Fest – was a secret thrill that I was happy to indulge in (just as long as I didn’t get called on, something I completely forgot about as I got in early and found myself seated on the front row!) Continue reading “Review: Das Fest, VAULT Festival”

Review: nest, VAULT Festival

Nest, VAULT Festival, London

An intriguing debut for new Australian writer Katy Warner with nest at the VAULT Festival

“They made beautiful patterns in the sky and then just disappeared”

Katy Warner’s nest arrives at the VAULT Festival with the promise that this is a new Australian voice worth listening to. Warner comes here fresh from winning awards in Australia, and nest was shortlisted from over 1600 entries for Theatre503’s playwriting award. Produced here by Small Truth Theatre, it’s not hard to see why.

Focused on the extreme intensity of the relationship between Jade and Liam, it’s a punchy two-hander that speaks of the ease with which the disaffected can find themselves disengaged from society. In the council estate flat that she doesn’t like to leave, a chance meeting with Liam offers the rare opportunity to connect.  Continue reading “Review: nest, VAULT Festival”

Review: Conquest, VAULT Festival

Adding to the thought-provoking feminist work at this year’s VAULT Festival – Katie Caden’s Conquest

“Today children, we’re going to talk about sexual consent”

Welcome to the world’s first revenge cupcake company though if you’re a man whose behaviour has been somewhat wanting, you might want to check the frosting. This eye-opening (but honestly, not so far from the realms of reality) business idea lies at the heart of Katie Caden’s Conquest, which asks questions of how pro-active feminists need to be in contemporary society.

At the heart of the show is the relationship between Jo and Alice. They meet by chance in a Boots, where Jo spots Alice crying after a sexual assault has left her in need of a morning-after pill. And as an unlikely friendship blossoms, the ferociously feminist Jo (“she uses the word ‘patriarchy’ in everyday sentences” introduces Alice to the world of Conquest, the company she’s started up with a band of equally wronged women. Continue reading “Review: Conquest, VAULT Festival”

Review: I Have A Mouth And I Will Scream, VAULT Festival

“We don’t need a book, what we need is action”

The publicity for Abi Zakarian’s I Have A Mouth And I Will Scream puts it better than I ever could – it’s “a play-performance-art-protest-thing.” With one of the funniest lines I’ve heard in a theatre this year, involving Sean Bean. Directed by Rafaella Marcus, the show has all the raw energy of devised work but also carries with it the weight of something much more deeply considered.

I Have A Mouth… is an attempt to “address every single feminist issue in the space of sixty minutes” and does so, with its company of six, in a mightily anarchic manner. These are women who are just as likely to spit in a mirror, throw a tampon at you and bite the head off a wedding bouquet than sit quietly in the corner and put up with the patriarchy any longer and fuck knows, they’ve got every right to be angry. Continue reading “Review: I Have A Mouth And I Will Scream, VAULT Festival”

Review: Tiger, VAULT Festival

“It’s a good idea, some people might find it funny”

Grief does funny things to people. Different things too. Some retreat into themselves, trapped in a fug of isolation they can’t see a way out of. Others go out of their way to show the world that everything is fine, going so far as to dress up in a tiger suit, even if they’re dying on the inside. Joe Eyre’s Tiger, directed by Will Maynard, brings the two together with some cheesecake, some yoga, a whole lotta David Bowie and a brand of neatly intelligent comedy.

Comedian Alice is the one experiencing the first kind of grief. Utterly poleaxed by the death of a loved one, she’s completely withdrawn from the outside world and even from her doctor boyfriend Oli, whose patience is being stretched to breaking point after six long months. The hunt for a flatmate brings a man dressed as a tiger to their front door replete with a suite of knock knock jokes and a chink of light in the darkness of Alice’s depression.  Continue reading “Review: Tiger, VAULT Festival”