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Vault Festival: Our pick of the best shows to see in week eight

Brilliant Jerks

Vault Festival finally comes to a close this Sunday, after two weird and wacky months underneath Waterloo. Here are five shows not to miss in its final week

Songs of Friendship: A Storytelling Cycle

James Rowland’s unbearably touching one-man storytelling shows have been one of the fringe’s biggest success stories of recent years. First came the tear-jerking Team Viking [1], which saw James and his friends slowly come to terms with the death of a loved one. Then came A Hundred Different Words For Love [2], in which he examined the harrowing breakdown of a beautiful relationship. The third and final instalment of the trilogy, Revelations, is about donating sperm and premiered earlier this festival. This week, for the first time, you can see all three together (on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights, or throughout Saturday). And you really should – they’re wonderful, witty pieces, full of love and warmth.

A Hundred Different Words for Love review at Vault, London – ‘bittersweet and carefully crafted’ [2]

Brilliant Jerks

In just nine years, one company has taken a simple idea – hailing a cab from your smartphone – and turned it into a multi-billion dollar global tech firm. But the most successful start-up in history hasn’t had an easy ride to get there. Journalist Joseph Charlton’s play uncovers the secrets and scandals behind the rise of a Silicon Valley giant, focussing on three narratives – a driver in Manchester, a coder in London, and an ex-CEO/Trump adviser in the US, Tyler Janowski (no prizes for guessing who that is). It’s a new show from Lipsink, whose last show – Daniella Isaacs’ Hear Me Raw – was a hit in Edinburgh in August.

Hear Me Raw review at Underbelly, Edinburgh – ‘astute takedown of the wellness industry’ [3]

Tom and Bunny Save the World

Fat Rascal Theatre – yet another young company supported by the remarkable New Diorama – was the brains behind Buzz, the hit fringe comedy musical about vibrators. They returned to Edinburgh last August with Tom and Bunny Save the World, a wildly different show set in a Britain overrun with zombies, which arrives at Vault before a lengthy national tour. It’s a darkly funny, stereotype-defying musical that follows two Yorkshire-born survivors as they head back up North through post-apocalyptic England.

Buzz – A New Musical review, Greenside, Edinburgh – ‘filthy and funny’ [4]

Lock and Key

Another blackly comic new musical, this one from up-and-coming duo Barlow and Smith (Bella Barlow, composer, and AC Smith, book and lyrics). Lock and Key follows Jess, an ambitious worker in a big publishing firm, as she works late one night on her company’s latest children’s title and discovers a grisly secret about her boss. It’s directed by Adam Lenson, who took the reins of Southwark Playhouse’s sensational Superhero last summer, and asks big questions about what it takes to succeed professionally as a woman in the modern workplace.

Superhero review at Southwark Playhouse, London – ‘immaculately crafted’ [5]

A Girl and a Gun

Performance artist Louise Orwin’s 2013 show, Pretty Ugly, received international attention on its premiere, so unnerving was its journey into the dark world of online beauty rating. Her next show, A Girl and a Gun, first ran at Manchester’s Flying Solo Festival in 2015 and arrives at Vault after stints in Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Bristol and at Camden People’s Theatre’s feminist festival Calm Down Dear. Taking inspiration from Jean-Luc Godard’s assertion that “all you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun”, it interrogates the narrative roles of women in popular culture, relying, like Manwatching [6] and Nassim, on the help of an unprepared co-performer.

A Girl and a Gun/Portrait review at Camden People’s Theatre – ‘brim with creativity and conviction’ [7]