Preview: The VAULT Festival

January may seem like a depressing month, what with Christmas now firmly in the past and pay day still a lifetime away. But it also signals the start of the VAULT Festival, London’s biggest arts festival. Over the next eight weeks venues throughout Waterloo will play host to a wide range of theatre, comedy and cabaret acts, immersive experiences and much, much more.

Here are just some of the shows I’m looking forward to over the next couple of months.

Tarot (28 January – 1 February)
Live Tarot reading and contemporary circus come together for an unpredictable cabaret evening, in this reworking of The Feathers’ Edinburgh Fringe hit. Hosted by Ruby Wednesday and accompanied by soul-funk band Yoshi, audience tarot readings guide the performers in this unpredictable night of circus, music, improvisation and divination.

Since U Been Gone (4 – 9 February)
Following a successful run at London’s Gate Theatre and the Edinburgh Fringe, Teddy Lamb’s debut solo show arrives at the VAULT Festival. Since U Been Gone is a moving account about losing a friend and growing up queer in the Noughties. An autobiographical story, Since U Been Gone is brought to life through storytelling and an original pop soundtrack.

Gobby (4 – 9 February)
Written by and starring Jodie Irvine, Gobby is a heartfelt story about central character Bri, who recaps the last two years of her life via five parties she attended during that time. Irvine’s new play is a story of survival and an exploration of self-awareness, a heartfelt dark comedy about what it really means to be loud.

Sister (8 and 15 February)
The year is 2030 and Lauren and Jade are nurses working in an NHS hospital. Sister sees the pair looking back at the nurses who came before them, those who have fought for the NHS and their right to save lives. A play from Rosa Assembly, a female-led activist theatre company, Sister is a celebration of the nurses who have kept us alive and a call to action to fight to save the NHS.

Sticky Door (11 – 16 February)
The final part of Katie Arnstein’s It’s a Girl! trilogy (which is presented in its entirety on 16 February), Sticky Door offers an insight into sex, dating and feminism, accompanied by original songs. An all-female production, Sticky Door is a personal and honest production which aims to inspire the audience to help others through a series of closed doors that women face in work, sex and life.

Bible John (12 – 16 February)
In 2019 four women obsessed with a true crime podcast attempt to crack the case of one of Scotland’s darkest unsolved crimes: the murder of three women in 1960s Glasgow by an Old Testament-quoting serial killer, Bible John. A partial retelling of Bible John’s crimes, this play looks into the ethics of true crime as entertainment and questions why women are so hungry for these stories.

Madame Ovary (18 – 23 February)
A five-star Edinburgh hit, Madame Ovary is the true story of Rosa Hesmondhalgh’s treatment for ovarian cancer when she was aged just 23, and is a subject close to my heart. Based on Rosa’s own blog, this is a life-affirming and funny show about the importance of love when your world comes crashing down around you. I missed it at the Fringe but can’t wait to see it soon!

The Nobodies (18 – 23 February)
Chalk Line Theatre presents Amy Guyler’s political thriller The Nobodies, which looks at the feeling of restlessness amongst the working classes in a time where class divisions are widening.  The Nobodies capitalises on the need for action, for those feeling powerless in the current political climate.

She Is A Place Called Home (3 – 8 March)
Written by Esohe Uwadiae and developed as part of the VAULT Festival New Writers’ Programme in 2019, She Is A Place Called Home is a story about two sisters in the run up to their dad’s wedding as they deal with his decision to get another wife (in addition to his first). The play explores what happens when culture and religion collide, and what people do to try and survive.

Beach Body Ready (17 – 22 March)
Now that Christmas is over it won’t be long before the media asks us if we’re ‘beach body ready’. Thankfully Hull-based theatre company the Roaring Girls have had enough of campaigns which have shamed, dehumanised and humiliated how we look. Their new production Beach Body Ready is a feel-good show which sticks two fingers up at how the media says we should look.

For more information and to book, visit https://vaultfestival.com/whats-on/

Photo credit: Tom Shannon

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