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Lyn Gardner's VAULT Festival 2023 Picks: Week 6

Lyn Gardner's VAULT Festival 2023 Picks: Week 6

Lyn Gardner's VAULT Festival 2023 Picks: Week 6 cover photo on Stagedoor
What's caught the attention of our resident critic in the VAULT Festival's sixth week?

By now, you are probably aware that it’s been bad news for the VAULT Festival, whose landlords clearly don’t know or understand the gem of a festival it has been lucky enough to host since 2012 and have given the festival notice to quit the space. It means that next year’s festival won’t be in the current location. But if the festival can raise £150,000 and gets the goodwill it deserves from other venues and businesses, it should be able to stage an interim festival in 2024 before securing its longer-term future.

So, the show should go on, and it certainly does this week as we move into week six, which spans Tuesday 28 February to Sunday 5 March. If you haven’t already caught up with In PurSUEt in Edinburgh, then you are in for a treat with this solo comedy show about a Sue Perkins superfan, it deals with addiction and obsession and does it with a bittersweet touch. Also arriving from Edinburgh is Sophie Bentinck’s one-woman show, Pauline, about her grandmother who committed suicide in 1967. Using her grandmother’s diaries, Bentinck charts the changing situation of women in one family over three generations.

Niall Moorjani in A Fairie Tale.

Contemporary Scottish racism is considered in A Fairie Tale, and it is done through folklore in Niall Moorjani’s much-admired piece of dark storytelling, which comes with live cello accompaniment. The VAULT Festival isn’t just for adults; it also has plenty of family shows too. In the award-winning Blue Badge Bunch, audiences get to experience what it might feel like to be disabled in an interactive game show format.

VAULT favourites Katie Arnstein and Chalk Line each return with new work this year. With The Long Run (directed by Bec Martin), Arnstein—who has hits with Sexy Lamp and Sliding Door—considers how we deal with crises and how life is not a sprint but a marathon. Chalk Line’s first VAULT show, The Nobodies, won them many friends, and deservedly so. Now they are back with Poison, Hate and Vitriol, about a journalist who creates a fake online persona of a figure modelled on online influencers such as Katie Hopkins and Andrew Tate.

We’ve all heard of the infamous Roman emperor, Caligula, and of course, his horse. But in Caligula and the Sea, the story of the emperor is framed through his relationship with the sea and determination to rule not just as an emperor, but as a god. It puts him on a collision course with the king of the sea. Lead artist and director Yuxuan Liu—one of this year’s VAULT 5 supported artists—considers the conflict between nature and humanity.

From Naomi Westerman's BATMAN (aka Naomi’s Death Show).

Chronic Insanity and Little but Fierce team up for BATMAN (aka Naomi’s Death Show), in which Naomi Westerman wants to uncover the truth about her mum’s death and exact justice. Or is it vengeance? I also like the sound of Queer Planet, in which drag and the animal kingdom walk side by side. Bi-Curious George both sends up our love of Attenborough-style nature documentaries and celebrates the natural world as more queer than you might think.

Try Bram Davidovich’s Rat King, a tale of homelessness, class, friendship and empathy, which was briefly seen at the Hope Theatre or take a chance on Asian Girls in Therapy, an early career comedy from Gurjot Dhaliwal and Megan Soh, which is exactly what it says on the tin.

Cover image from In PurSUEt. Photo by Sophie Giddens.

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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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