London’s Vault Festival, which has been cooking up new and experimental work in the warren of tunnels beneath Waterloo railway terminus since 2012, returns on January 25 and runs until mid March. The 2017 programme is an expansion on previous years, with more than 200 companies and artists presenting work, and organisers co-opting new spaces to accommodate new shows. So, how do savvy theatregoers pick their way through the offerings?
Natasha Tripney presents this year’s Vault highlights…
January 25-March 5
Previously seen at a pop-up theatre in York, this immersive take on F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby is the work of the Guild of Misrule and the Immersive Ensemble. It’s the largest-scale show of the festival (with the highest price), and runs for the full six weeks. 1920s dress is encouraged. Dancing is more than likely.
James Rowland’s Team Viking was a heart-swelling piece of storytelling theatre. It made me have a tiny cry in the middle of last year’s Edinburgh Fringe. If his new show A Hundred Different Words for Love is anywhere near as good, it will be a very good thing indeed.
Crowley and Co programmed a strand of work at last year’s Vault, setting up residency in the Locker. This year the company is co-producing a five-night run of Molly Beth Morossa’s storytelling show, Greywing House, one of the highlights of the Locker residency.
Playwright Tim Foley was deservedly acclaimed for his play The Dogs of War, a memorably odd account of mental illness and family damage that was sttaged at the Old Red Lion in 2015. His new piece, a Brexit-inspired play called Astronauts of Hartlepool, promises to be similarly strange and rich. It’s also one of a number of space-themed plays at this year’s Vault Festival.
Brad Birch and Kenneth Emson join forces for This Must Be the Place, first seen at Latitude in 2016, and making its London premiere at the Vault Festival. Directed by Justin Audibert, it’s described as “two short ballads about being alive”. Birch penned an amusing piece of ballad-theatre at a recent Miniaturists new writing night and Emson was responsible for Terrorism, one of the highlights of the Bush Theatre’s This Must Be the Place season, so this one looks interesting.
Atelier Theatre Studio presents What Shall We Do With the Cello?, a surreal comedy by one of Romania’s most celebrated contemporary playwrights, Matei Visniec. There will be live music written by avant-garde composer Iancu Dumitrescu – for the cello, obviously.
Camilla Whitehill, writer of the “warm, evocative and intelligent” Where Do Little Birds Go? – a highlight of the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe – and Mr Incredible, is presenting a new piece, On the Crest of a Wave, an exploration of mourning.
Superbolt Theatre’s energetic, endearing take on Jurassic Park played at the Vault Festival in 2015. This year it’s premiering a new comedy, Mars Actually, yet another of the shows at this year’s festival with a space theme.
Poet, playwright and performer Richard Marsh is a Vault Festival regular. He co-wrote Dirty Great Love Story, currently at the Arts, with Katie Bonna and he’s back this year with a scratch version of his spanking new show about the founding of a religion, Todd and God.
Tom Brennan, a member of the Wardrobe Ensemble and co-director of 1972: The Future of Sex – winner of The Stage Edinburgh Award – has written a new play, The Episode, set during the filming of reality TV show.