Five shows to see during week one of VAULT Festival
An interactive horror adventure, a new musical, a work-in-progress storytelling show, and more...
Hello, and welcome to The Crush Bar, a weekly newsletter about theatre written by me, Fergus Morgan.
This issue is one of a whole load of newsletters about VAULT Festival over the next couple of months. Every Monday from now until mid-March, I’ll be sending out issues featuring five shows worth seeing at VAULT every week - three picked by me, plus a couple of promos. And, every Friday, you’ll be getting your regular in-depth interviews, 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!
All Falls Down - Chronic Insanity
Award-winning Nottingham-based outfit Chronic Insanity might be the busiest theatre company in the country. Led by Nat Henderson and Joe Strickland, the company has been producing twelve shows in twelve months since 2019 – alongside opening its own venue in the caves underneath Nottingham, and opening the UK’s first digital-theatre literary department.
Now, Chronic Insanity is arriving at VAULT Festival with two new shows. Batman (AKA Naomi’s Death Show) arrives in early March, but first comes All Falls Down, an hour-long improvised, interactive storytelling horror show about a group of friends trying to survive in the wilderness after a plane crash.
Running twice a night from Tuesday until Friday, then five times in one day on Saturday, the show will see the audience attempt to guide characters from the wreckage of their plane, through the dangerous woods that surround it, to safety. The decisions the audience makes will determine the direction of the show, and how many of its characters live…
Salamander - Pretty Knickers Productions
Scottish, all-female theatre company Pretty Knickers Productions’s new musical Salamander was a hit at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, selling out its week-long run and earning rave reviews. Now, it arrives at VAULT Festival for two nights only on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Written by Mhairi McCall and Cal Ferguson, and directed by Kirsty Pennycook, Salamander is inspired by real events that took place in Leith in 1983: a local prostitute has been murdered, and Lothian Police have invented the position of Prostitute Liaison Officer to get to know the sex workers of Leith and do what they can to ensure their safety.
A six-strong cast – McCall, plus Becky Niven, Claire McCarragher, Claire Docherty, Niamh Kinane and Sarah Dingwall – and guitarist Lewis Lauder use spoken word and song to imagine what might have happened. It is, The Scotsman’s Joyce McMillan wrote in August, “a funny, powerful and poignant tribute to the full dignity and humanity of women whose way of life is often stigmatised.”
Piece Of Work - James Rowland
James Rowland probably needs no introduction to most readers of this newsletter. The shaggy-haired solo storyteller has been a fixture at fringe festivals since his devastating 2016 debut Team Viking, the first show in what became his acclaimed Songs Of Friendship cycle.
Now, Rowland returns to VAULT Festival with a work-in-progress entitled, for the moment at least, Piece Of Work. It is, the blurb explains, “a story about the unfolding of the infinite, about the tangled mess of the UK, about two brothers, and one remarkable chicken burger.”
That is all there is to go on at the moment, but this is a James Rowland show – so expect laughter, tears, heartfelt sentiment and whimsical songs. Catch it at one of two performances on Sunday, or when it returns to VAULT Festival in mid-March.
Siapa Yang Bawa Melayu Aku Pergi? - Faizal Abdullah
Faizal Abdullah is a Muslim-Malay theatremaker, born and raised in Singapore, now living and working in London. Siapa Yang Bawa Melayu Aku Pergi? (or Who Took My Malay Away?) is his hour-long lecture-performance exploring what it means to be Malay in the modern world – the culture, the community, and the complexities. It is, he says, “a very personal piece.”
Written and performed by Faizal, who has worked with the Royal Court Theatre and acclaimed ensemble Curious Directive, and produced by Nur Khairiyah Ramli, who worked on acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe play Patricia Gets Ready, with contributions from a team of Asian diaspora artists, Siapa Yang Bawa Melayu Aku Pergi? runs in the Network Theatre over the first two weekends of VAULT Festival.
The show has been developed from a ten-minute piece Faizal created while studying at Goldsmiths, University of London, and via work-in-progress performances at Camden People’s Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre, Park Theatre, and Sheffield’s Migration Matters Festival. He hopes it will have a future life after VAULT Festival, too: “I’d love to tour the show, and to do a longer run in London. I’d love to create workshops around it associated with Malay culture, too.”
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For A Brief Moment And Never Again Since - Judi Amato
Sicily-born, York-based writer Judi Amato’s new play For A Brief Moment And Never Again Since focuses on a couple torn apart by a crime. Jumping backwards and forwards in time, it tells the story of Owen, a man convicted and imprisoned after a highly publicised arrest and trial, and Sarah, his partner, whose life has been turned on its head as a result.
Directed by Lisa Millar and performed by Monique Anderson and Peter James, the play runs for three performances over VAULT Festival’s first weekend. Writer Amato, who has just graduated from an MA in Playwriting at Manchester University, says it was inspired by a desire to explore assumptions often made about the families of those convicted of crimes. “The families of convicts are looked down on, or ostracised, or seen to share the guilt,” she says. “I really wanted to challenge that.”
The play is also written to be flexible, so it can adapt to the circumstances in which it is performed. For the VAULT Festival run, Amato explains, it is set in South London – but she hopes to take it to other theatres in other cities, and to adapt it as it goes. “It could be adjusted to be performed in Manchester,” she says. “It could be adjusted to be performed in Glasgow. My dream is to take it to the North, where I am based, and to perform it for the communities that it will resonate with there.”
This is promotional content.
That’s it for now. I won’t be in your inboxes on Friday, as I’m currently on holiday, but I’ll be back next Monday with five shows to see at VAULT Festival next week! See you then.
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!