The first three weeks of the VAULT Festival 2018 were spectacular, but how did we round off the first half of London’s biggest new writing festival? We close out the midway point in our coverage with the lowdown on Week 4:

Can you believe that we’re halfway through the biggest VAULT Festival that London has ever seen? Neither can we! Half of the 300 companies have now performed and celebrated new work, championed existing successes and profiled work going on tour in these subterranean caverns. And we at Miro Magazine have given out our first ★★★★★ review!

In Weeks 1 – 3, we at Miro saw 14 productions and profiled 14 on our website. We’ve had five ★★★★☆ shows, three of which were our shows of the week – Great Again: The Musical in Week 1; Madonna Or Whore in Week 2; Think Of England in Week 3.

Vault Festival 2018 Cotton

Alex Benjamin’s Cotton

So, now it’s the turn of Week 4. Out of the possible 60 different shows, performed 270 times in the 11 different spaces, let’s recap Miro‘s thoughts about the five seen:

Escapism – dressing up or running away

Joyous Gard Vault Festival 2018

Joe Eyre’s Tiger

Our Week 4 was packed with shows about escaping in one way or another. Whether it be Joyous Gard‘s Tiger – one man coping with family trauma by living in a tiger suit – or whether it be If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You – two boys hiding on a roof after robbing the family home – these productions showcase the need for theatre to take us away from it all. For Tiger, theatre journalist Hatty Uwanogho aptly highlights the need to get some head space,

Tiger is a cleverly and beautifully written production about what it feels like to fall into the black hole of depression, when you cannot see the way out and you don’t know who can help or when it will ever end.”

It certainly makes an impression on the festival, “at its world premiere, I felt honoured not only to be watching a new show that has never been performed before, but one that actually moved me to tears”.

Tiger is one of three productions that company Joyous Gard bring to this year’s festival offering – I Have A Mouth And I Will Scream is featured in our round-up below (so keep reading!) and Timothy comes in the last week (14 – 18 March).

★★★☆☆

Vault Festival 2018 Cocaine Love

Josh O’Donovan’s If We Got Some Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You

In the longest title of any show at the VAULT FestivalIf We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You is less about a past family trauma and more about trying to escape the status quo of a backwards town. Being on the roof after robbing your family home of its money and its drugs, while the police sirens and lights flash up at you from below, is the metaphor for rising above and getting away from your current predicament. Theatre editor Daniel Perks writes,

If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You, probably the longest title ever to play at VAULT Festival, is a situationally static two-hander, one where the dialogue and the subtext provide the momentum and the drive”.

Josh O’Donovan’s script is a narrative trick – it presents the mirage of a production that doesn’t centre solely around a homosexual relationship, yet in reality is underwritten entirely by the prejudicial agenda that pervades this unnamed, rural Irish town”.

The beauty in this show (also in our Show of Week 4 – keep reading!) is in its imperfections, an ending that doesn’t paint the situation as picture-perfect, but rather shows it up as one of resigned and grim reality.

★★★☆☆

Escapism as someone else

Vault Festival 2018 Edinburgh Festival 2017

Isobel Rogers’ Elsa

Continuing on the theme of escapism, we turn to Isobel Rogers, whose cleverly crafted lyrics paint the picture of coffee shop girl Elsa and the conversations she overhears while at work on a busy Saturday. Daniel Perks comments:

Elsa is shrewd and sharp, a girl with dreams of more than the barista life that she has fallen into after university. Rogers’ performance is similarly wishful, a production that shows her potential for creating believable, insightful individuals. This show is a statement of intent.”

Elsa is a welcome change of pace to the theatrical world of VAULT Festival – it’s still escapist, but through acoustic guitar, a girl on a stool and the power of storytelling, “Rogers’ compositions match her lyrics – the chromaticism and complex chord progressions reveal a clever underlying construction that matches the wit inherent in her words”.

★★★☆☆

Show of Week 4

Joyous Gard Vault Festival 2018

Peyvand Sadeghian in Abi Zakarian’s I Have A Mouth And I Will Scream

This show is not about escapism. Rather it’s about exactly the opposite, throwing light on the current situation and calling it out as bullshit.

The Miro Show of Week 4 goes to I Have A Mouth And I Will Scream, which Theatre Editor Daniel Perks describes as,

“not perfect, and that’s the whole point. Because our world is far from perfect, so fucking far.”

Abi Zakarian’s actors, all women, are tired of being polite. But that’s because our society has instructed them to be meek, to bow and pander to the male ego, to submit and subvert. These women have had enough. I Have A Mouth And I Will Scream throws stereotypical scenarios and behaviours in our faces with unrelenting force, a call to shove them down the throat of the patriarchy and scream loudly while it chokes.

Be the skinniest. Fuck the most. Find the most expensive apartment and the most expensive diamond ring, with the most beautiful trophy man on your arm. Rafaella Marcus’ direction smashes through all that competition with the sledgehammer of feminist reality – female empowerment is not achieved by exerting your aesthetic superiority over others.

The show winds down and the women return to apologising. Because they’ve had their say, their rant, their moment. Fuck That. This Is Not The End. Zakarian and Marcus refuse to back down. The team behind I Have A Mouth And I Will Scream deserve to be heard. And like it or not, we will listen.

★★★★★

 

 

The VAULT Festival runs until 18 March 2018. For the full programme of events, visit the website here.