Review: A Wake in Progress, VAULT Festival

For all its funeral-based shenanigans, there’s something warmly, beautifully, life-affirming here in the interactive A Wake in Progress at the VAULT Festival

“When it comes to it, I will be remembered in the most romantic, bullshit way possible…”

This is the story of Henry. Except it won’t be when you see A Wake in Progress, as the finer details of this Fine Mess & Leila Sykes production are improvised every night, using audience suggestions to shape the action and flesh out back stories around a young person diagnosed with a terminal illness and given just months to live.

Joel Samuels’ script sees our protagonist opting to stop treatment and get on with the business of living the life that remains, and some of the more powerful moments here come in the interactions with loved ones and family who can’t comprehend such a choice. There’s also some pretty punchy stuff around the language of death, our tendency towards euphemism instead of facing the truth head on. Continue reading “Review: A Wake in Progress, VAULT Festival”

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: Happy New, Trafalgar Studios 2

I could be the model Australian”

The Old Red Lion Theatre in Angel seems to have struck up quite the symbiotic relationship with the Trafalgar Studios 2 as a number of its productions have transferred there and the latest to make the leap to the Whitehall venue is Brendan Cowell’s Happy New. I decided to see it purely on the strength of the casting of Lisa Dillon and avoided reading anything about it in advance as it is a rare pleasure indeed that I see a play with no knowledge of what it is about. And it really paid off as the unexpected direction of the show and the way in which it progressed came as a genuine surprise and one which I’d recommend, going in blind if possible.

It’s a story alternately about the cruelty that humans can inflict on each other and the way in which the media are often guilty of exploiting human crises for their own gain and then dropping the subjects like hot potatoes when the next big story breaks. Traumatised by events from their past, Danny and Lyle are two brothers now living an almost hermetic existence in a tiny flat, with just the vibrant Pru as a conduit to the outside world though it becomes increasingly clear that her intentions are far from honourable.  Continue reading “Review: Happy New, Trafalgar Studios 2”