Five shows to see during week four of VAULT Festival
An innovatively staged show about mental health, an improvised musical, a solo show about a terrible teacher, and 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 fourth 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!
Surfacing - ASYLUM Arts
Founded in 2021, ASYLUM Arts is an emerging company focused on improving the representation of neurodiversity and disability. Surfacing is its new show, supported by Pentabus Theatre, and it sounds seriously cool.
A two-hander, it will innovatively use motion sensor technology and motion-responsive video design and composition to depict the story of Luc, an NHS therapist who starts to struggle with her own grip on reality after meeting Owen, a new client. All performances are relaxed, audio-described and captioned, too.
And it has a crack creative team: writer Tom Powell (interviewed in this newsletter in 2021, around his Papatango Prize-winning play The Silence and the Noise), director Stephen Bailey (winner of the RTST Sir Peter Hall Award), designer TK Hay (winner of the 2019 Linbury Prize), plus performers Rosie Gray (of Barrel Organ Theatre, who featured in this newsletter last year) and Daniel Rainford.
The Bean Spillers - Gigglemug Theatre
Writer, director and performer Sam Cochrane – AKA Gigglemug Theatre – is the creator of award-winning comedy musicals Timpson (a ridiculous riff on Romeo and Juliet about the high-street handyman) and RuneSical (a choose-your-own adventure about RuneScape), both of which have been big hits at the Edinburgh Fringe in recent years.
The Bean Spillers is Gigglemug Theatre’s improvised musical, running at VAULT Festival for two nights only – last Saturday, and this Saturday. Conceived and performed by Cochrane and regular collaborator Alex Prescot, it has a simple premise: the duo take a silly story or crazy confession from the audience, and spin it into a musical.
You can see the plots of previous performances on their website – some of them are absolutely outrageous – and you can read my 2021 interview with Cochrane here. And you can book tickets to see their second and final performance at this year’s VAULT Festival using the button below.
Rapture - Pink Sky Theatre Company
Rapture is a new play from writer-director Sophie Leydon and her LGBTQIA+ collective Pink Sky Theatre. It made its critically-acclaimed debut at The Pleasance last July – The Stage’s Paul Vale called it “an engrossing and entertaining drama” about “love, grief and healing” told through a lens of “gender identity, sexual consent and polyamory” – and now arrives for a two-night run at VAULT this weekend.
Conceived during lockdown and developed with multidisciplinary artists including acclaimed theatremaker Tabby Lamb, Rapture follows three queer characters – Tommy, Rosy and Kit, played by Bryan Moriarty, Lynne Jefferies and Pete MacHale – and their complex, co-dependent lives in contemporary East London. It is, Leydon says, “a camp and chaotic fever dream” about “counter-cultural relationship structures.”
There is an “industrial, kink-inspired set” from Verity Johnson, a score of “thumping synth pop” from musician BYFYN, and “neon-tinged” lighting from Ros Chase. And writer-director Leydon has big plans for the show. “VAULT is a huge opportunity for us to get our debut show seen by industry, producers and press, but we are most excited to build meaningful relationships with other young companies,” she says. “We would love to partner with a venue or producing house with a view to performing in Edinburgh this summer, where the show could really take its wings and fly.”
This is promotional content.
The Kick Inside - Kerensa Diball
Several years ago, Australia-born, London-based theatre artist Kerensa Diball decided not to have children. Her new one-woman show, The Kick Inside, which premieres at VAULT Festival on Tuesday and runs every evening this week, explores the impact of that decision on her life – from the mixed reactions of her friends and family, to the functioning of her own body, to the way the world now sees her as a childfree woman.
Written and performed by Diball, with dramaturgy from award-winning artist Bryony Kimmings and musical accompaniment from her real-life partner Roman Tucker, the show use autobiographical storytelling, clowning, dance and more to conduct a frank, funny and poignant investigation into why childlessness is still so challenging in contemporary society.
“I’m really excited to perform the show at VAULT,” Diball says. “I would love to take it to the Edinburgh Fringe this summer, too, and then take it around the UK the following year. I’d love to take it back to Queensland in Australia one day, too. Above all, though, I want to have conversations with people about the subject of the show. It’s something a lot of people go through, but do not get the opportunity to talk about.”
This is promotional content.
Bad Teacher - The Queens of Cups
The Queens Of Cups is an emerging company formed of Baltimore-born director and producer Grace O’Keefe and British theatremaker Erin Holland. The duo met while studying at Royal Holloway, University of London, and immediately hit it off. “Erin wanted to write women in comedy, and I wanted to direct women in comedy,” O’Keefe remembers. “So we started making shows together.”
Bad Teacher, the company’s debut, was a hit at last August’s Edinburgh Fringe, and now transfers to VAULT Festival for a four-night run starting tomorrow. Written and performed by Holland and directed by O’Keefe, it is an semi-autobiographical comedy about the trials and tribulations of a working-class, 20-something high school teacher, and it was inspired by Holland’s own experiences. “Think The Inbetweeners,” says O’Keefe. “Only darker and crazier and 90 per-cent true.”
“We loved doing Bad Teacher in Edinburgh and we are really excited to do it again at VAULT,” O’Keefe continues. “We have written a TV pilot of it, too, and we really want industry people to come and see the show – production companies, agencies, everyone – and help us take it to the next stage of its development. And, after VAULT, we will be premiering a new musical comedy sketch show in June, so look out for that, too.”
This is promotional content.
That’s it for now. We will be back at VAULT Festival with this Friday’s issue, which features Romania-born, London-and-Luxembourg-based theatremaker Larisa Faber, whose show Stark Bollock Naked is running next week.
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 in a week!