If you thought you’d have to wait until August’s Edinburgh Festival to enjoy an extravaganza of theatre, comedy and performances, you’re in luck. Next week, some of London’s most innovative and brilliant artistry will retreat underground for the VAULT Festival, celebrating the weird, wacky and offbeat in arts and culture. Lasting six weeks and with plenty of shows on offer, here are some of the theatrical highlights we’re looking forward to from the festival.
Catch this otherworldly black comedy at the beginning of the festival. Michael is currently wasting his life away working as a house artist at a large corporation, until they decide to send him up into space as part of their new space tourism venture. But Michael ends up stranded and in total isolation, hurtling around the Earth with no idea of his purpose there. With stunning set design and an innovative use of projection mapping, this play will tap into our fears of isolation and the universe’s current anxieties.
January 25 at 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm, tickets are £15, find out more here.
Bechdel Theatre Podcast
This podcast recording will discuss the issue of gender in theatre with reference to the famous Bechdel Test developed for films, asking the questions: are there two women on stage and do they speak to each other about anything other than men? Hosted by Beth Watson and Pippa Sa, they will interview prominent women from theatre and challenge the audience to compare representation in theatre to that of film and television. This looks set to be an important beginning of an extended discussion about women’s role in theatre.
February 1 at 6:10 pm - 7:10 pm, tickets are £9, find out more here.
Skin of the Teeth
Imagine having no fear. This is an idea that this thriller come fairytale will be tackling, with a plot based on the Grimm’s Fairytale The Boy Who Went Forth to Learn to Shudder. Nicholas can’t understand why he’s unable to feel fear, particularly after he is involved in a violent accident. He accepts the help of Mr Bacon, who transports him from his quiet seaside town to a dangerous world. Equal parts surreal, enchanting and gritty, this performance deals with our perceptions of fear and the pressure put upon young men.
February 1 at 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm, tickets are £9. Find out more here.
Daddy’s Girl by Georgia Brown
Having a parent in prison is certainly one of the trickiest things a child can contend with. In this production, Terry is locked away for life whilst his daughter Georgia navigates the difficulties of growing up in a millennial society. Based on a true story, this hilarious and heartwarming play explores the difficult dynamic between father and daughter, trying to celebrate Christmas even with one of them behind bars.
January 27 at 6:10 pm - 7:10 pm, tickets are £15. Find out more here.
Happily Never After
An improvised musical is probably as challenging and unpredictable as it sounds and this is what improvisation group The Maydays will be attempting. Inspired by the warped imagination of Tim Burton, this will be a dark musical tale incorporating black comedy, terrifying songs and a bespoke cinematic soundtrack. Happily Never After promises to be a delightfully eerie experience.
February 1 at 9:15 pm - 10:15 pm, tickets are £12, find out more here.
Borderland // Calais
Last year the refugee camp in Calais was disbanded, and these performances will share first-hand accounts of the experience of forced relocation. Borderland will draw on data to create clear accounts of what happened on the camp, including the conditions, supply shortages and disregard for human rights. Calais will work from the Twitter feeds of refugee charities telling the final moments of the camp to show an accurate depiction free from media bias. Despite being performed on stage, these performances are no word of fiction, and examine how theatre and research can come together to create accurate portrayals of landmark moments.
February 8 at 6:20 pm - 7:25 pm tickets are £9. Find out more here.
This Must Be The Place
This play explores a common theme in our lifetimes, having a break from a world overwhelmingly dominated by our relationship with technology and the pressures of city life. The work of award-winning playwrights Brad Birch and Kenneth Emson, this play follows two ballads, the first one focusing on two friends trying to start again in the big city and the second following a crisis-ridden man taking a break from technology and connectivity. A critically acclaimed meeting of minds, this play promises to be a departure from the tired narrative of the difficulties of London life and instead offer something different.
February 8 at 7:45 pm - 8:45 pm, tickets are £12, find out more here.
This Is Not Culturally Significant
Buckle up for this daring and eccentric one-man show from Out of Spite Theatre. Portraying over ten characters, from a pathological liar classics professor to an American porn star, this play promises to be fast-paced and very high energy, exploring the absurdities of human life through one man’s diverse and unsettling performance.
February 15 at 7:15 pm - 8:10 pm, tickets are £12, find out more here.
Blood & Bone
What is a theatre festival these days without a black comedy puppet show? Three plants have to battle to save themselves from being mulched to make space for a hot tub, contending with narcoleptic sunflowers, vegetables on benefits and Donald Stump on their path to the safe haven – the front garden. Combining excellent puppetry with political satire, this performance will have you crying with laughter at all of the hilarious puns and similarities drawn to our own lives.
February 15 at 9:30 pm - 10:30 pm, tickets are £12. Find out more here.
This play will tell the fascinating story of the first British-Indian suffragette. Sophia Duleep Singh was raised within the British aristocracy, but experiences disillusionment with her upbringing which results in her campaigning against British imperialism and for the women’s vote movement. This inventive new play mixes a variety of performance styles and adopts modern Asian fusion music as its soundtrack, exploring identity, feminism and a defining moment in British history.
February 22 at 9:30 pm - 10:30 pm, tickets are £12, find out more here.