While nursing his liver after a highly successful VAULT Festival 2018 launch party, Theatre Editor Daniel Perks looks back on Week 1 of The Vaults’ biggest year so far:

Well, one thing about VAULT Festival 2018 is for sure – they throw one heck of an opening party. As I sit here after Week 1, a glass of Berocca and a cup of strong Colombian roast within reach, I can say that this has been a pretty epic first week for festival directors Mat Burt, Andy George and Tim Wilson. Now, as the subterranean caverns go quiet for a couple of days to take a well-earned rest, the first set of shows can pack up and reflect while the second week can get in and make their mark.

Week 1 saw 40 different shows perform over 200 times in the 11 different spaces – that includes the nearby Network Theatre and Waterloo East Theatre. Let’s recap Miro‘s thoughts about this epic opening week:

Vault Festival 2018 Edinburgh Festival 2017

Georgie Morrell – Eyecon

Here come the girls

Week 1 featured powerful shows from inspirational women, tackling such topics as racism, sexism, career choices and disability all in the first week. From Nicole Acquah‘s brutally honest take on societal stereotyping in For A Black Girl, to Joana Nastari‘s fearless performance in Fuck You Pay Me, which highlights the truth behind the facade of working in a strip club, the theatre section is taking no prisoners in this celebration of new work from the next generation of theatre maker.

Theatre For A Black Girl VAULT Festival 2018

PJ Stanley & Nicole Acquah – For A Black Girl

For A Black Girl sizzles with promise right from the outset. Acquah’s strategy catches us offguard with some light-hearted devices, before PJ Stanley‘s opening line,

“I don’t think there is such a thing as racism or sexism”

Stanley plays the part of an entitled cis-het white man with bravery and courage, standing up in a room that is clearly in support of Acquah’s fervent point of view. We watch example after example where the above statement simply doesn’t hold true. It’s a show that reminds me, as a cis white man, to constantly check my privilege, think about what I say and how it can be perceived as inadvertantly sexist or racist on a daily basis. Being complacent is simply not an option.

★★★☆☆

Vault Festival 2018 Fuck You Pay Me

Joana Nastari – Fuck You Pay Me

Fuck You Pay Me is a combination of celebrating the choice for all of us to pursue the careers that we want, free from prejudice or harrassment, with the shame that comes from lying to your family for fear of their judgements. Nastari gives us a laudable performance without pause and without preconception, mixing sassy confidence with crippling self-doubt and insecurity. She shows us the person behind the pole dance with some searing spoken word and fiery honesty:

“I touch myself and dream of what I’m gonna eat later”

The comedy is where the greatest impact lies here – this is a show that has a serious point but doesn’t set out to lecture anyone. No frills and no apologies – cough up the cash and get out.

★★★☆☆

Becoming Shades VAULT Festival 2018

Chiavaree Circus – Becoming Shades (image courtesy of Maximilian Webster)

Exploring the supernatural and the fantastical

The opening to this subterranean wonderland was definitely full of imagination, from shows of childlike glee to those of otherworldly spectres. We went down to the Underworld and back with Chivaree Circus‘ Becoming Shades, flew away into Neverland and yelled sweet Babooshka into the abyss with GOLEM Theatre‘s Tomorrow Creeps. The cavernous spaces are obviously a perfect location for all things magical and mystical.

Vault Festival 2018 NeverLand

Dominic Allen – Neverland

Alexander Wright‘s immersive world is probably one of the most frustrating shows that will play throughout the whole festival. It’s a fusion of J.M Barrie’s fantasy world, Neverland, with the tragedy of his actual life, one full of pain and loss and grief. It feels chaotic, leaving the audience trying to grapple with a game that they have never previously played. The rules are endlessly changing and no one can keep up.

And yet, the inner child in us all is just desperate to roll up our sleeves and jump in feet first. We want to help create this bold, new world with reckless abandon, as we join the tales of make believe, swashbuckling on board the Jolly Roger or waltzing at the Fairy Ball. I want to reconnect to the child within and be swept away on the journey. But the adult in me notices that some things are too muddled, lacking in impact.

☆☆☆☆☆

Tomorrow Creeps GOLEM Theatre

Tomorrow Creeps

GOLEM Theatre‘s Tomorrow Creeps is theatre edtior Daniel’s highlight of the festival so far. Writer David Fairs is both bonkers and skilled enough to rip apart sixteen Shakespeare pieces of work and put them together to form something completely new and utterly captivating. The plot is at times difficult to grasp, but there is endless fun in picking out the Shakespeare plays from the various lines of dialogue. The juiciest of parts goes to Zena Carswell, who delivers the most succulent of performances.

But it is director Anna Marsland who transforms this production, taking each element and galvanising them together into a cohesive singularity. It is very difficult to combine theatre with a sense of believable witchcraft on a budget, yet Marsland steers clear of the pitfalls – those of smoke and mirrors – and taps into the heart of any mysticism.

★★★★☆

Vault Festival 2018 Great Again

Great Again: The Musical

Show of Week 1

The Miro Show of Week 1 goes to Great Again: The Musical, which reviewer Jonathan Penney describes as,

“a very touching plot about friendship, which one would generally not expect from a musical about voting for Trump”.

The current US President was always going to be a big feature of this year’s new writing scene, in the same way that Brexit made its theatrical debut last year. But Great Again‘s success is that while centring around the presidential campaign, it steers clear of lecturing on political opinion and focusses more on the feeling of passion for your beliefs, ones that can leave you invisible and seemingly alone when you mix in the wrong circles. Joseph Cunningham‘s direction captures a believable story that immerses the audience within a heightened emotional situation that can run riot during a political rally.

★★★★☆

 

To read more about the VAULT Festival, which runs until 18 March 2018, follow the company on Twitter (@VAULTFestival) or visit the theatre website – www.vaultfestival.com