On the one hand, that the VAULT Festival has expanded to over 300 shows running over eight weeks is fantastic news for the emerging theatremakers that it supports.
On the other, it means making the choice about what to see, even tackling the catalogue alone can feel somewhat daunting. It has taken me a wee while to get round to delving into it myself, but as the festival is set to open this week, here’s some of my top tips for each week.
Tomorrow Creeps – re-purposed Shakespeare via the medium of Kate Bush? Hell, yes.
Tumulus – it’s not a festival unless there’s a chemsex show.
Great Again – likewise a Trump-bashing musical.
Double Infemnity – gender-flipping noir crime antics in a one-woman show? Why the hell not?!
Gypsy Queen – can two men raised to fight ever learn to love?
Gun – I’ll be trying to catch more comedy than I usually do this year, and this Western-inspired show very much seems as good a place to start as any.
Think of England – love, lust and swing dancing in wartime Waterloo – tick!
Be Prepared – I’m a fan of writer/performer Ian Bonar so definitely looking forward to this one.
Douze – Eurovision pop comedy musical fun, nuff said.
YOU – a thought-provoking look at adoption, drawing on some deeply personal narratives.
Elsa – a chirpy sounding piece of reflective musical comedy
Week 5Sparks – Jessica Butcher is a name that people in the know rave about, Anoushka Lucas is a name I have raved about, together they ought to come up with something special
Conquest – a debut show from PearShaped and one which promises to tackle contemporary feminism with real fearlessness
Still We Dream… – I don’t see much dance but something about this piques my attention, animalistic movement in non-traditional spaces
Week 6TESTOSTERONE – experimental work pushing the trans narrative forward, one for the Daily Mail-reading person in your life…
Das Fest – in many ways what the Vault Festival is for, for me, to see the type of thing I would never normally book for (as in Philipp Oberlohr’s show last year Das Spiel) and be delighted and not a little freaked out!
The Strongbox – Stephanie Jacob is having a low-key moment, her play Again opens at Trafalgar Studios 2 next month and its final week will overlap with another piece of new writing from her, I suspect they’ll both be worth catching
Week 7Fuck Marry Kill – a work-in-progress from Vera Chok and Amy Mason which uses the game show format to challenge the patriarchy
Bury the Hatchet – the tale of Lizzie Borden is one of enduring fascination and Out of the Forest are no exception here, using bluegrass, nursery rhyme and horror to retell and reexamine this story
Unburied – a folk horror mystery that just seems most intriguing
Week 8THINGS THAT DO NOT C(O)UNT – I loved No Offence’s torn apart at the Hope last year, so I’m much intrigued by this new work
The Dirty Thirty – an ever-changing attempt to perform 30 shows in 1 hour – I’m sold!
Tom and Bunny Save The World – another company I’m a big fan of, Fat Rascal, present a zombie comedy musical that is sure to shake up gender lines as much as apocalyptic survival methods