It’s that time of year again: the annual VAULT Festival is nearly upon us, and looks set to be bigger & better than ever! There’s a lot to love about what goes on at this event, with an incredible range of theatre, comedy, music & refreshments on offer every day for eight weeks.
If you’ve never been before, I thoroughly recommend you do. Yes, the location can be a bit off-putting if you’re wandering around at night by yourself but, as with anything, it’s not as bad as it seems. (And some events actually take place down the road at Waterloo East Theatre.) It’s ideally situated in terms of transport, just a short way from Waterloo and Waterloo East stations (and several bus routes). 320 artistic groups will be at this year’s event, so you really are spoilt for choice – and with short running times, good value tickets & shows running from early evening to late night, you’re bound to find one or two things that you’ll really enjoy.
“We’re trying to effect change in the creative sector and make it sustainable for both the artist and the festival. What we give is space: to innovate, take risks and cooperate with each other. We don’t charge rent. We do take 30% of box office, towards covering our costs. The artists get the other 70%. Simple.”
You can check out the full itinerary in the ‘What’s On‘ section of the official website, but to whet your appetite I have a few previews I’d like to share with you…
Tomorrow Creeps – GOLEM! Theatre (24-28 January)
I’ve mentioned this a few times now already, but I really am quite excited about it. If you’re a fan of Shakespeare but don’t get uptight when people don’t stick rigidly to the 400-year-old plan, then GOLEM! Theatre are the company for you! This play is made up of text from 16 Shakespeare sources (including the sonnets) to tell a brand new story from the mind of David Fairs. To find out more, read my full preview of the show and how the company contribute to the Shakespeare innovation quest.
NeverLand – The Guild of Misrule, Hartshorn-Hook Productions and Theatre Deli (24 January-18 March)
This brand new immersive musical based on the famous Peter Pan stories of J.M. Barrie has had a successful run in Sheffield, and now makes its way to The Vaults. And by immersive, they really mean immersive! Patrons are welcome to come dressed for the occasion as pirates, lost boys, fairies or Edwardian gentry – and interaction is very much encouraged. If you’re up for an experience as much as a show, this should be right up your street (please note that you will be on your feet for around 90 minutes, so be prepared!).
James Acaster: work in progress (4 February)
Definitely one of my favourite comedians of the moment (his book, James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes, was one of my recommendations in Never Mind the Blog this month), so it’s rather exciting that he’s part of the line-up for the VAULT Festival and trying out some new material.
Think of England – Anonymous Is A Woman Theatre Company (7-11 February)
I was lucky enough to be at this immersive tea dance the last time it was in London, so it’s very exciting that it now makes its return and to such historic surroundings. Rather than a village hall, this time it will be set in an air raid shelter; this particular space around Waterloo was actually used for this purpose during World War Two, so the line between history and fiction looks set to blur. To find out more, read my review of the show from December 2016.
The Poetry We Make – Flugelman Productions (7-11 February)
Described as “Love, Loss, Dolly Parton and Understanding Love Beyond Gender”, this sounds like a timely & interesting production. It combines the songs of Dolly Parton with the story of Robin, who is just beginning the transition into a woman – brought together by RADA graduates Jaswinder Blackwell-Pal (writer) and Edwina Strobl (director), it tries to answer the question ‘Who do we fall in love with: a body, a soul, a gender’?
Bump! – Buckle Up Theatre (14-18 February)
This “fast paced, highly physical romantic comedy” won ‘Best Comedy Show’ (and was nominated for ‘Best New Writing’) at Greater Manchester Fringe 2015, and is now set to play at The Vaults. It sounds like a fun & intriguing concept, as Eliana & Ian’s thoughts and feelings collide like exciting atoms – and we see whether they really are working in harmony, or if they are actually on different wavelengths…
Trump – the Musical! – Blowfish Theatre (21-25 February)
What more can you say? This show has been put together by the “perpetrators” of Boris the Musical, and looks ahead to 2020 as Donald Trump seeks re-election. “But will Putin work his cyber magic once more? And can King Nigel Farage the First of England get his trade deal?” When reality and ridiculousness collide to make a President Trump in the first place, you can’t blame people for trying to enjoy the madness before the red button gets pushed!
Das Fest – Philipp Oberlohr (28 February-4 March)
Billed as “Austria’s Derren Brown”, this show brings art, clowning, physical theatre and illusions together with storytelling, to produce a mindreading experience like no other. He delves into participants’ pasts and looks forward to their futures. Das Fest is a kind of sequel to Oberlohr’s previous show (Das Spiel), which sold out at the 2016 VAULT Festival.
NEST – Small Truth Theatre (28 February-4 March)
Katy Warner’s two-hander makes its world première at this year’s VAULT Festival: “A messy love story rages in a long-forgotten council estate.” The play is based on a true story, and focuses on mental health and the social housing crisis through the relationship between Jade and Liam.
Words, Words, Words – Lowri Amies (28 February-4 March)
As the title suggests, there is a link to Shakespeare with this production too. This is Lowri Amies’ debut play, inspired by a dark time in her life: the grief following the death of her mother. Shakespeare became the only language in which she could express herself and deal with the emotions she was facing – so now the words of 13 of the Bard’s plays have been put together with her own to examine the seven stages of grief.
Orpheus – The Flanagan Collective and Gobbledigook (7-11 March)
A modern re-telling of the famous Ancient Greek myth: “A tale of impossible, death defying love told through spoken word, and soaring live music.” There is also the promise of karaoke, for those of you who enjoy that sort of ritual humiliation! It is one of those legends that has stuck with me ever since I first encountered the Ancient Greeks, so it’s fascinating to think of how it could be updated to a contemporary setting.
Thirsty! – Tori Scott (14-18 March)
Including songs from Edith Piaf, David Bowie, Adele, Judy Garland, The Drifters, Miley Cyrus and many others, this cabaret tells a variety of true stories – and celebrates Tori Scott’s love of vodka, as well as the effects of poor life choices. Scott is making her VAULT Festival debut, but is well known and loved around the cabaret circuit, having previously performed at Joe’s Pub (Public Theater, New York City) and Live at Zédel. She says, “London has become a favourite place to perform! During my time here, I’ve fallen in love with London audiences, because much like me, they have a love of dark humour, an appreciation for live performance and a serious passion for booze. Now, if only we could get the bars to stay open later.”
VAULT Festival runs at The Vaults from 24 January-18 March 2018. Tickets for all events are available online or from the box office.