Vault Festival 2018: What to see at London’s biggest arts festival
This bold and collaborative fringe festival is back boasting a diverse programme of theatre, comedy, music, film and late night parties. Most of the shows will take place in the cavernous space of the Waterloo tunnels, but this year performances will also be hosted at the Network Theatre and Waterloo East Theatre. Since it began in 2012, each year the festival has grown and 2018 is no different, with over 300 theatre pieces and events on offer and 320 creative companies involved.
It’s free to enter the venue itself to visit the Vault Kitchen and acquaint yourself with the spray paint and the bars – and the programme of events if you feel like seeing some daring new work by both young theatre companies and those who are returning to Vault following some sell-out shows in previous years. There is almost too much to choose from at the capital’s biggest arts festival, but a mass of themes, genres, dressing up opportunities and immersive experiences will ensure this Fringe continues to thrive.
As a platform for artists to showcase new work and take creative risks, the Vault Festival also ensures that theatre is accessible for the audience, offering affordable tickets prices – starting from £5 – and the opportunity to catch a couple of different productions in a day for those who really need their theatre fix.
Among this year’s events are a Labyrinth-inspired circus party, a musical about Trump, an interactive game and theatre piece that allows you to be part of London’s own revolution, and a revival of smash hit Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho. Below are ten shows we’ve picked out that are on over this glorious eight-week-long festival.
An interactive performance in the Vault tunnels, Becoming Shades is no traditional circus experience. Contemporary all-female company Chivaree Circus use acrobatics, fire, mime, live instruments and electronic sounds to take the audience into Hades’s Underworld in their retelling of the story of Persephone.
The Guild of Misrule and Theatre Deli are offering theatregoers the chance to rediscover their lost child in their Peter Pan-inspired follow-up to 2017’s The Great Gatsby, which was a sell-out at last year’s festival. Audiences will be led into the dark and riotous world of Neverland, a place that promises pirates, food fights and some musical Lost Boys, deep within the Vaults.
A site-specific piece for just six audience members, Wrecked explores the immediate moments after a car crash. The play has been created by Fever Dream Theatre, a company that invites theatregoers into unconventional performance spaces so they become part of the story. With two shows on every day of the festival, only the six passengers in Sam’s stolen car will find out how she got there and what happens next.
Balancing both the comic and the tragic, Trashed is about one drunk man with a dark secret, and takes place at a Yorkshire rubbish dump. This physical and powerful play was highly acclaimed at the Edinburgh Fringe last year. It tells the story of working-class Goody, who has been working the bins for 19 years but is struggling with loss and loneliness and who he really is.
Photo: Lab Rats Theatre Company
For a Black Girl
Two actors play 60 characters in this part-autobiographical, part-verbatim piece. This Is It Theatre and writer/performer Nicole Acquah aim to uncover the truths about the reality of everyday racism and sexism in the UK today, while taking the audience out of their comfort zone. For a Black Girl uses a combination of interviews, spoken word and a movement ensemble to express the Black British Experience in this topical new play.
A one-man show that has become even more relevant since its run at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe. Joe Sellman-Leava’s experimental play explores gender and masculinity with humour and candour, and the struggle that young men have in making sense of love and anger. Monster confronts us with multiple characters, timelines and well-known voices to challenge how we think about gender and aggression.
Think of England
How about a 1940s tea dance? Anonymous Is a Woman Theatre Company is recreating the air raid shelter that was originally built beneath Waterloo Station, and they are inviting us in to dance. In an immersive show based on a real wartime scandal, we meet hosts Bette and Vera who are employed by the War Office to travel the country and boost morale. But what happens when the RAF soldiers – and the audience – discover the real reason behind these tea dances?
This Is Not Culturally Significant
This one-man show returns to the Vaults for just two charity performances in 2018. Writer and performer Adam Scott-Rowley’s This Is Not Culturally Significant won Show of the Week at last year’s festival and is a fully confrontational piece of theatre that commands us to face head on the darker aspects of contemporary society. It’s brutal, but brilliant.
The Forgiveness Project
This initiative from Mulligan Collection – the Mulligan Theatre Company and international charity The Forgiveness Project – consists of a series of plays and events that present questions about forgiveness and its importance in today’s world. Ian Done a Bad Thing by James Barbour and Sam Carrack and Talk About the Passion by Graham Farrow – both running at the festival – tell stories of vengeance, rage and passion and ask about how we understand and forgive terrible acts. Audience members can explore the rules they live by and decide how each play should end. In Real Stories Told Live, the Forgiveness Project offers theatregoers the chance to respond to and discuss the stories they hear and will also provide a Reflective Circle to share questions and insights about the plays and the subject overall. Sure to be absolutely captivating.
The Forgiveness Project events are on 3rd and 4th March.
How do we say goodbye and what do we really mean when we say it? Returning to the festival after last year’s award-winning run of A Year From Now RedBellyBlack Theatre will use physical theatre, lip-synching and puppetry to investigate how and what we bid farewell to – to each other, to addictions or to a place.
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Featured photo: Vault Festival 2017
Vault Festival 2018 runs from 24th January until 18th March 2018. For further information or to book a show visit the festival website here.