You know 2017 theatre has officially kicked off when the Awards season is in full swing and The Vaults Festival has served up some excellent fringe theatre.
For 6 weeks in an otherwise dreary and damp February, theatremakers and theatregoers alike have descended back into the vaults underneath Waterloo station, to drink, be merry and experience a whole host of fringe theatre. This year the festival played to 47,000 audience members that saw over 250 different performances, from evenings immersed in the roaring twenties to life on Mars.
As for the Vault Festival Awards, Show of the Year 2017 was split between 2 shows – A Hundred Different Words For Love by James Rowland, whose 2016 show Just Viking received critical acclaim at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and This Must Be The Place by three-time Off-West End nominated theatre company Poleroid.
As for me, I was only able to see a paltry 12 shows (a shocking result when there were 157 different productions to see) – but below are my picks of The Vault Festival 2017.
Kings: One of The Vault Festival’s Shows of the Week, Kings is my pick of The Vaults Festival 2017. Building on the successes of Cornermen and Happy Dave, Smoke and Oakum Theatre have constructed a witty, insightful show that throws a spotlight on a group of individuals we are all too happy to forget about in society. Oli Forsyth stays true to his successful writing style – real people having real conversations about real life. Emotive; empathetic; exceptionally talented in the nuances his script conjures forth. Kings is a team effort, every member of cast and crew completely in sync to produce a stylish show, packed full of meaning and tackling the questions that are all too easily swept under the carpet.
See my interview with Oli Forsyth and Smoke & Oakum on the website.
Labels: One of the winners of the People’s Choice award, Labels is an honest account of Joe Sellman-Leava’s heritage and the prejudices that his family have faced over the years. These names, these labels, these categorisations cling to him with an adhesive persistence, covering his body with assumptions and generalisations. Ultimately this story showcases Sellman-Leava as a role model. He is a modern man that resists quick judgements; a writer that puts his pain, his persona on the line for others to bear witness to; a performer that is genuinely excited and humbled to be given the chance to stand in front others, constantly questioning if he deserves or is worthy to take to the stage.
Read my interview with Joe Sellman-Leava and Worklight theatre here.
The Gran Show: Viki Browne devotes The Gran Show to the memory of her grandmother. People grieve in different ways and for Browne this is her way of processing her sadness. The most an artist can hope for with a work in progress is that the concept holds strong and true. Browne’s concept, her artistry, leaves no room for doubt. In this setting the production’s slow pace is an homage, allowing the audience (and Browne as much as anyone) to stop, to pause and to take stock. It’s a rare look into something exceptionally personal and, while rough around the edges, acts as a true tribute to an unsung hero.
Please visit the link for more reviews on productions covered by Culture By Night.
For more information about productions in The Vaults Festival 2017, please see the event website.