I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to three shows at the uber-cool Vault Festival in the last couple of weeks. Everything about the Vault Festival is cool – the location underground in the Waterloo vaults, the gallery-turned coffee shop, the Underbar with the long canteen style tables leading up to the bands/DJs, even the names of the individual venues (the Cage, the Crescent, the Cavern). With over 100 shows packed into six weeks, there is a wealth of exciting work on show. On top of that, I’ve bumped into people I know on each visit. Madeleine MacMahon (who will always be remembered for her Boris Johnson in Twenty Twelve at the Space) is performing in Sing for Your Life at the festival (9.30pm 4th-8th March) and was wonderful company whilst I watched Object Love. Directed by Chloe Mashiter (Chloe was AD on my production of The Suicide and will be bringing A Doll’s House to the Space in the Summer), Object Love was a fascinating insight into objectum sexuality, a subject I was wholly ignorant of before seeing the show. Three utterly charming performers explained their relationships with objects and their struggles in being open about these with non-OS people. Is it odd to be dating a guitar? A little bit unconventional, yes, but the piece is ultimately about love, acceptance and our right to choose who or what we love. Humorous, moving and sensitively handled, I hope to see Object Love performed again somewhere, it’s a show that deserves to be seen.
My second visit was to see Les Foules’ Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone. I met Nathalie Adlam and Peter Wiedmann in 2013 when they brought their excellent production of Cymbeline to the Space so was delighted to get an invite to see their work again.Â My chance encounters included Emma Blackman (who performed wonderfully as Tatyana in the One Festival last month) accompanied by Bertie the gorilla, Alex Crampton (director of a recent R and D project at the Space) but I knew I was in for something different when I discovered I was sat next to Phil Mann. My wife is still traumatised after seeing Phil perform in a play alongside a 6ft penis some years ago. Phil is part of the highly successful Battleacts improv group, also performing at the Vault, 9.30pm until 1st March. This piece featured five short scenes written by Australian playwright Tobias Manderson-Galvin, all cleverly interlinked. The writing is beautifully brutal and hits you like a freight train, each piece a challenging feat ably met by the four excellent performers. Frightening visions of where we’re headed as a society, dark, intense, philosophical and comedic.
My third visit was to see Caligula’s Alibi’s Idiots which combined an adaptation of the Dostoevsky work with an imagining of the writer himself in purgatory.Â The former element was the more successful for me – the tight, dispassionately stylised delivery was highly effective. The purgatory scenes have great potential, Jonnie Bayfield driving forward the Bottom-esque comedy but they suffer from not being as tightly crafted as the other scenes.Â The whole is masterfully scored by one-man orchestra Jonathan Hopwood.Â Unlike the other two pieces, I had no previous connection to the company or performers. Brave, intelligent, charmingly funny and talented, I look forward to seeing more from Caligula’s Alibi.
Pre-show I bumped into Joshua Nawras (actor in Space Productions’ Tartuffe and Kid Arthur), who has some exciting projects on the go and Gruff Theatre Company, who have moved their immersive Instructionally Invited into the Vault after it’s successful run at the Space last August.
It’s the halfway point of the festival, it ends on 8th March, so there are still 3 weeks of great work to go and see, I hope to be back before it ends! Check outÂ www.vaultfestival.com