The first half of the VAULT Festival 2018 made for a pretty memorable month. Now we’re into the second half – can it match up to the magic? We continue our coverage with our views on Week 5:

The halfway point of a marthon is often where you see athletes flag, encouraged by the mental victory of reaching a milestone but starting to physically tire at the thought of doing exactly the same again. Not so with VAULT Festival – this theatrical monolith is still as vibrant and energetic in Week 5 as it was in Week 1. Can you believe there’s only three weeks left? Neither can we!

In Weeks 1 – 4, we at Miro saw 19 productions and profiled 27 on our website. We’ve had one ★★★★★ show and five ★★★★☆ shows, with four shows of the week – Great Again: The Musical in Week 1; Madonna Or Whore in Week 2; Think Of England in Week 3; I Have A Mouth And I Will Scream in Week 4.

Vault Festival 2018 Edinburgh Festival 2017

Amy Conway’s Super Awesome World

So, now it’s the turn of Week 5. Out of the possible 50 different shows, performed 340 times in the 11 different spaces, let’s recap Miro‘s thoughts about the three seen:

Conflicting sexual ideas

Our Week 5 coverage was focussed around sex and sexuality. On the one hand, PearShaped‘s Conquest presented the follow-up on an encounter where sex was offered begrudgingly to placate and please; on the other, Zina dealt with a one-woman account of the dichotomy between sexual proclivity and faith.

Vault Festival 2018 Conquest

Pearshaped’s Conquest

In ConquestKatie Caden writes with a blunt insistence, the story justifying itself through an unrelenting and unreticent pace. Theatre editor Daniel Perks notes that,

“Both Jo (Colette Eaton) and Alice (Lucy Walker-Evans) are young women, trying to feel safe and secure in themselves”.

Caden’s writing and Jess Daniels‘ direction highlights the flaws within these two female characters as an open admission – no-one is perfectly moral and a gender, or a movement, should not be judged simply by the mistakes or errors that some of its members make. Walker-Evans and Eaton both scrape away their stereotypical facades and reveal the confusion and vulnerability of what it still means to be a woman in today’s society.

While at times lacking in impact, Conquest  is a show that presents an important message, a series of viewpoints that audiences will benefit from appreciating. The pacing is misplaced and lacks rhythmic consistency, but the core concept is solid and illuminating.

★★★☆☆

Vault Festival 2018 Zina

Anonymous’ Zina

On the flipside is Zina, written primarily by an anonymous woman who is revealing herself in the character that Sarah-Jane Dent protrays. Zina‘s dichotomy lies around her devout following of Islam, while simultaneously exploring a range of sexual tastes and appetites. Theatre editor Daniel Perks is less impressed with this particular show:

“The superficial motive is all too obvious – Zina intends to shock us with sordid details of her sexual proclivity. Except we live in the 21st century; we are well aware of the inherent variety in sexual desire.”

Zina is a flawed production in all aspects – from Dent’s line slips and wrongly cued behaviours to the lack of dramaturgical intelligence. The narrative arc spins itself around on the spot, time and time again, without actually driving anywhere or making any point. Everyone seems to breathe a sigh of relief when the show ends because Zina  ultimately fails to convey any kind of point or purpose.

★☆☆☆☆

Show of Week 5

Vault Festival 2018 Butcher & Dee

Jessica Butcher’s Sparks

The show of week 5 is one that we did not review at Miro Magazine, in accordance with the wishes of the production team. Sparks is billed as a work in progress, a premiere production from debut writer Jessica Butcher. Butcher also stars alongside singer-songwriter Anoushka Lucas in the show, which is directed by Jessica Edwards (Denim, associate on King Charles III and assistant on Bakkhai) and produced by Michelle Barnette, with design by Amelia Jane Henkin, lighting by Zoe Spurr and sound by Alexandra Faye Braithwaite.

As her first written production, Butcher is clearly a talent to watch. Theatre editor Daniel Perks caught her first as an actor in Offside as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 and then saw a 15-minute excerpt from Boots as part of HerStory FestivalBoots is due to appear at VAULT Festival 2018 in Week 7.

But what makes this our show of the week, despite it being a work in progress? It’s the vision, talent and emotion that pours forth from Butcher’s writing and Lucas’ songs. The pair draw us in to the story – we laugh at the observational realism; we cry at the heartbreak when love turns out to be imperfect; we grieve with the central character when she reaches back into past memories. Ultimately, we appreciate & feel every detail and leave the theatre a blubbering mess.

 

 

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