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Lyn Gardner's VAULT Festival 2023 Picks: Week 5

Lyn Gardner's VAULT Festival 2023 Picks: Week 5

Lyn Gardner's VAULT Festival 2023 Picks: Week 5 cover photo on Stagedoor
What's caught the attention of our resident critic in the VAULT Festival's fifth week?

We’re hitting the half-way point in the VAULT Festival and the shows (and the hits) keep on coming. This coming week (Tue 21 February - Sun 26 February) I’d keep an eye out for It’s a Motherfxxking Pleasure, a satire about the monetisation of identity politics and disability. Why? Because disabled-led company FlawBored has got the wind in its sails. This piece won the 2022 Les Enfants Terribles Award; they have just become associate artists at the Pleasance, and the show is directed by JMK Winner Josh Roche, a serious talent. Also, it sounds like lots of fun.

Another LET Award short-listed play, Clare Fraenkel’s I Was a German, also sounds interesting and was briefly seen as part of CPT’s Sprint Festival last year, which always produces some crackers that go on to further development. It’s a true story spanning Berlin 1933, where Fraenkel’s grandfather, Heinz, goes to the cinema and never returns, and London 2023, where his granddaughter, Clare, is applying for German citizenship.

From Clare Fraenkel’s I Was a German.

Another true life story is Maud, inspired by the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a young black man out jogging who was murdered in a racially motivated crime in 2020 in Georgia, USA, after being chased by the white residents of a neighbourhood. Lawyers for the family described what happened as “a modern-day lynching.” The piece uses verbatim testimony and extracts from recordings to highlight a case that led to Georgia putting a hate crimes law on the statute book.

A real life story of survival is told in Her Green Hell, about a 17-year-old called Juliane Koepcke, who in 1971 survived falling two miles when the plane she was travelling in was downed by lightening over the Amazon rain forest. TheatreGoose is a fledgling company, and this is effectively a graduate show, but the subject intrigues and binds a story of singular survival to one about the survival of the planet.

Arriving in London via Edinburgh is Sam Potter’s The Unicorn, a play about sexual harassment and female sex addiction, which got some nice reviews last summer. We don’t get much contemporary Italian drama in London, but HIDE and SEEK is an award-winning play about two boys facing the fallout from prejudice in their small Italian town.

From Sam Potter’s The Unicorn.

Looking for something a bit different? I like the sound of Beth Bowden’s Right of Way. Bowden, an interdisciplinary artist, is one of this year’s Vault 5 supported artists, which is always a good sign.

Also check out Gone to the Dogs, a gig theatre show which spans weeks five and six. Written and performed by Tsarzi, who has been described as “a Brechtian Kate Bush” and compared to Amanda Palmer. It’s a song cycle, in which Tsarzi plays a washed-up Britannia in a run-down bedsit musing on past and present from Arthurian legend to Brexit. Or Try Stark Bollock Naked, Larisa Faber’s show, which arrives at Vault via CPT and features a naked body used as projection space and a mini-orchestra of gynaecological instruments, as a woman attempts to solve the motherhood question and what to do with her increasingly ageing eggs.

Cover image from Maud. Photo by Lidia Crisafulli.

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Lyn Gardner

New tips and reviews every week. If you're looking for innovative theatre, you've come to the right place.
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