Five shows to see during week five of VAULT Festival
A one-woman play about sex addiction, a solo show about stalking Sue Perkins, and lots more...
Hello, and welcome to The Crush Bar, a weekly newsletter about theatre written by me, Fergus Morgan.
Until mid-March, this newsletter is focusing on VAULT Festival. Every Monday, I am sending out issues featuring five shows worth seeing at VAULT that week - this is the fifth of those - and on Fridays, I am sending out your regular, in-depth interviews, plenty of which will focus on artists performing at VAULT, too.
A quick reminder that you can support this newsletter by becoming a paid subscriber for just the price of a cup-and-a-half of coffee a month, via the button below. If you want to find out more about The Crush Bar - including promo opportunities - then click here. If you are interested in promo opportunities around VAULT, then click here.
That’s all for now. More from me at the bottom, but first: five shows to see at VAULT Festival this week!
The Unicorn is a one-woman play about sex addiction. It was inspired, writer Sam Potter told me last year, by an anonymously written article she read in a magazine. “The idea of sex addiction as an expression of trauma, as a way of getting out of your own head, just fascinated me,” she said.
Written by Potter – whose career as a writer and director has seen her work everywhere from Theatre503 to the Royal Shakespeare Company – and directed by Wardrobe Ensemble’s Tom Brennan, The Unicorn sees actor Alice Lamb play Andrea, a woman who loses her job after making a sexual harassment complaint and combats her consequent depression through intimacy.
It was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe last August – The Stage’s Emily Jupp called it “stylish and watchable” – and arrives at VAULT Festival for six shows, before embarking on a tour to Oxford’s North Wall Arts Centre, the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, and elsewhere, then returning to London for a two-week run at the Arcola Theatre in June. You can get tickets for its VAULT Festival performances using the button below.
Eleanor Higgins’ debut one-woman play In PurSUEt – a queer tragi-comedy about a woman who becomes obsessed with Sue Perkins – is currently midway through a nationwide tour that runs until July, but it is stopping off in London along the way for four shows at VAULT Festival.
Written and performed by Higgins, directed by Tom Knight and produced with female-led, LGBTQIA+ company Bush Productions, the show centres on a thirty-something woman experiencing an alcoholism-fuelled existential crisis, who becomes increasingly infatuated with the comedian, presenter, and former Bake Off host. Apparently, it is inspired by true events, too.
In PurSUEt was showered with praise at the 2019 and 2022 Edinburgh Fringes, with The Wee Review’s Catherine Renton calling it a “captivating and heartbreaking” show about “addiction, depression and denial.” You can catch it on Saturday and Sunday afternoon this weekend and next – and you can get tickets via the button below.
The VAULT Five is a programme for five emerging theatremakers, involving nine months of meet-ups and mentoring, followed by a slot in the VAULT Festival programme. Alumni include the creatives Casey Bailey, Gemma Barnett, Tabby Lamb, Katie Greenall and Julene Robinson.
The five participants for 2022-2023 were Tatenda Shamiso, Gaynor O’Flynn, Tatenda Naomi Matsvai, Yuxuan Liu, and Beth Bowden. A graduate of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’s MA in advanced theatre practice, Bowden is an interdisciplinary theatremaker and director, hailing from the South West. Her show – Right Of Way – runs for seven performances this week.
It sounds seriously interesting. Created by Bowden with producer Susannah Bramwell and artist Nina Fidderman, Right Of Way is a “semi-autobiographical piece that explores the intimate connection we have with powerful bodies of water, our heritage, and the women in our lives.” It is, the blurb continues, “an embodied reflection on chronic illness, accessibility, Young Carers, and radical joy.” Use the button below to get tickets.
Clare Fraenkel is an experienced actor, puppeteer and theatremaker, with credits as wildly varied as the BBC adaptation of Adam Kay’s This Is Going To Hurt, big-budget movie Magic Mike’s Last Dance, and Leeds Playhouse’s production of The Jungle Book. I Was A German is her first full-length play.
Shortlisted for the Les Enfants Terribles Award, and developed with support from Jewish arts centre JW3 London and The Goethe Institute, it sees Fraenkel use projections, puppetry, music and more to tell the true story of her grandfather Heinz, a German Jewish refugee who reluctantly made Britain his home.
Exploring themes of displacement, Britishness, fascism and partying, I Was A German is written and performed by Fraenkel, directed by Shadowboxer Theatre co-artistic director Lowri James, and runs at VAULT Festival for four nights this week, starting tomorrow. Get tickets via the button below.
It’s A Motherf**king Pleasure is the debut show from Flawbored, a new, disability-led company made up of theatremakers Samuel Brewer, Aarian Mehrabani, and Chloe Palmer. The winner of last year’s Greenwich Theatre Award, and already tipped as one of the most exciting shows at this year’s VAULT Festival by both Lyn Gardner and the Evening Standard, and runs every evening this week.
From an original concept by Brewer, written by the company, directed by JMK Award Winner Josh Roche, and produced by Stephen Bailey of ASYLUM Arts, the show is a satirical comedy about identity politics – and how brands and corporations cynically capitalise on it to promote their own agenda. The story is set in top talent agency RIZE – yes, spelt with a Z – and follows blind talent manager Tim (Brewer) as he attempts to make his blind client Ross (Mehrabani) the face of a new social movement, with HR manager Helen (Palmer) left to pick up the pieces.
“Both Aarian and I are registered blind, so we are allowed to take the piss out of this stuff,” says Brewer. “We wanted to have a laugh about the bullshit virtue signalling some of these institutions come out with. Shows about disability are often very traumatic or very autobiographical. We wanted to make something that was fucking hilarious instead, arrogant as that sounds.”
This is promotional content.
That’s it for now. We will be back at VAULT Festival with this Friday’s issue, which will be a special featuring Andy George, co-founder and director of VAULT Festival, discussing the devastating recent news that the event is getting kicked out of its home underneath Waterloo by its landlords, and is in search of somewhere new for next year.
One final reminder about the various ways you can support this newsletter: you can share it with anyone you think might be interested, you can become a paid subscriber using the button at the top, or you can get in touch with me about using it for promotional purposes.
That’s all. Thanks for reading. If you want to get in touch for any reason, just reply to this email or contact me via Twitter - I’m @FergusMorgan. See you on Friday!