Review: Dual دوگانه, VAULT Festival

Peyvand Sadeghian tests the limits of what a one-person show can achieve in the achingly personal Dual دوگانه at the VAULT Festival

“What if I had grown up there instead of here?”

There’s a cracking energy at the heart of Dual دوگانه  that marks it out from many of the other solo shows that pepper the programme at the VAULT Festival, really testing the limits of what a one-person show can achieve. Spoken word lip synching, (videoed) puppetry and animation, gameshows, audience-led revolutions, drag performance, poetry, pop – there’s whole worlds packed into this hour.

Writer/performer Peyvand Sadeghian draws deeply from her personal history here. Born in Canning Town to mixed heritage, the process of becoming a naturalised British citizen age 8 threw up issues when trying to visit her extended family in Iran a couple of years later. Not accepting British citizenship there, she had to get an Iranian passport, and name, and somehow ensure safe passage home, all laying further claim to an already tangled identity. Continue reading “Review: Dual دوگانه, VAULT Festival”

2020 VAULT Festival – 20 shows to see

Insofar as it is humanly possible for any one person to know everything that is happening at the VAULT Festival this year, I present a handful of my recommendations for 2020.

In all honesty though, I think the best thing to do is just pick a night, go down there and see what tickles your fancy – the level of quality here really is something to admire and means it’ll be very hard to end up disappointed. Take a look at their website here.

LGBT+ stories

Body Talk – 29 Jan — 02 Feb
Full Disclosure Theatre take on male body image from the gay perspective, looking at the damage that can be imposed by obsessing over it.

how we love 18 — 23 Feb
Regi and Babs are getting married. She’s a lesbian and he’s gay but they need the cover to deal with the dangers posed by the prevailing attitudes towards homosexuality in Nigeria.

Notch 19 — 23 Feb
After the devilish fun of Ladykiller, the Thelmas return with this dark meditation on migration, homelessness and obsession from Danaja Wass.

V&V 03 — 08 Mar
Exploring communication then and now, V&V contrasts love stories past and present from Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West’s love letters, to Mia and Lottie’s online missives.

Too Pretty To Punch 03 — 08 Mar
A comedy spoken word show from Edalia Day about gender and featuring original songs and video work about trans life in 21st century Britain. Continue reading “2020 VAULT Festival – 20 shows to see”

10 questions for 10 years – Abi Zakarian

I ask playwright Abi Zakarian to kick off round two of my 10 Questions for 10 Years feature

Abi Zakarian’s I Have A Mouth And I Will Scream kinda blew the roof off the VAULT Festival in 2018 and so she’s definitely a writer to watch out for, if indeed she’s not already on your radar – she has won a Fringe First too. But it is I Have A Mouth… that I will be putting on in my theatre when I win the lottery and I asked Abi to kindly share some thoughts about the play:

“Apart from the unbelievable amount of love and revolutionary fervour it seemed to inspire I actually really loved your review of it Ian – the bit at the end where you stated you’d changed your font for the review because of what you’d read in the Womanifesto made me choke up a little bit. So thank you.”

Review: 10, VAULT Festival

Theatre continues to lead the way in the feminist recasting of history as Lizzie Milton’s 10 introduces more forgotten heroines at the VAULT Festival

“Does that count for nothing?
Do I count for nothing”

Stuck at Six? Try 10. The truth is, sadly, that there are endless women whose histories have been misrepresented, or not even told but thankfully, there does seem to be a desire to tell those stories right now, accompanied by an appetite for them to be seen. Six is nominated for five Oliviers, Emilia has transferred into the West End and other shows at the VAULT such as The Limit have also got in on the act.

And why wouldn’t this be the case. Pretty much half of history has gone untold, unexplored, under-represented in our textbooks and in our culture, so it stands to reason that there’s acres of potential here. Lizzie Milton’s 10 identifies ten such women from across the centuries and across many disciplines, from medieval Mercian queens to Second World War heroines, abolitionists to painters, this is our real history. Continue reading “Review: 10, VAULT Festival”

2019 VAULT Festival – 20 shows to see

With less than a week to go before the 2019 VAULT Festival opens, I wade my way through the catalogue and come up with 20 shows I think you should catch – in their own words

Now in its seventh year, VAULT Festival returns this year from 23rd January to 17th March with a broad and diverse programme of more than 400 shows in a range of atmospheric venues throughout Waterloo. And as ever, the remit is to be as big and bold as impossible, with the festival featuring theatre, comedy, cabaret, immersive experiences, late night parties, and much more besides.

It can be a little overwhelming to figure out what you want to see, the majority of shows run for a week (Wednesday to Sunday) so you’ll need to move pretty sharpish once you’ve decided – there’s the VAULT Combo deal which saves you money booking more than one show, and some 241 deals available through the Stagedoor app. And to help you, I’ve identified 20 shows (and it could have been so many more!) that appealed to me and asked them to sell themselves in 10 words or less in order to grab your attention.  Continue reading “2019 VAULT Festival – 20 shows to see”

20 shows to look forward to in 2019

So many of the recommendations for shows to see next year focus on the West End. And for sure, I’m excited to catch big ticket numbers like All About Eve, Come From Away, and Waitress but I wanted to cast my eye a little further afield, so here’s my top tips for shows on the London fringe (plus one from the Barbican) and across the UK.

1 Medea, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam at the Barbican
Simon Stone’s sleekly contemporary recasting of Euripides is straight up amazing. Anchored by a storming performance from Marieke Heebink, it is as beautiful and brutal as they come. It’s also one of the few plays that has legit made me go ‘oh no’ out loud once a particular penny dropped. My review from 2014 is here but do yourself a favour and don’t read it until you’ve seen it.

Macbeth, Watermill Theatre
2018 saw some disappointing Macbeths and I was thus ready to swear off the play for 2019. But the Watermill Ensemble’s decision to tackle the play will certainly break that resolve, Paul Hart’s innovative direction of this spectacular actor-musician team will surely break the hoodoo…

3 Noughts and Crosses, Derby Theatre, and touring
Pilot Theatre follow on from their strong Brighton Rock with this Malory Blackman adaptation by Sabrina Mahfouz, a Young Adult story but one which promises to speak to us all. Continue reading “20 shows to look forward to in 2019”

Review: Things That Do Not C(o)unt, VAULT Festival

Things that do not count, VAULT Festival

An uncompromising look at a personal feminist odyssey, Things That Do Not C(o)unt plays the final week of VAULT Festival

“There’s always a stranger
And there’s always vodka”

I was a big fan of No Offence Theatre’s torn apart (dissolution) so the opportunity to catch their new show Things That Do Not C(o)unt in the final week of the VAULT Festival was one I was keen not to pass up. Written and performed by Nastazja Somers and co-created with Bj McNeill, it probes away at some of the key recurring themes that emerged in this festival.

Society’s expectations of women, and its expectations of how young women should deal with their nascent sexuality. Body image and the uneasy relationship that it inculcates with food. But there’s also a deeply personal vein to this show as well. Partly autobiographical in nature, Somers presents and investigates her Polish heritage too, exploring that impact too. Continue reading “Review: Things That Do Not C(o)unt, VAULT Festival”

Review: torn apart (dissolution), Hope

“Everything is slipping out of my control”

They fuck you up, your mum and dad. Or do they? Among the many themes raised by Bj McNeill’s is nature versus nurture, questioning if there’s an inescapable genetic legacy carried down by parents whether they’re a part of one’s life or not, looking at what impact their presence – or otherwise – has on one’s own emotional development. Are we doomed to repeat their mistakes or are we actually just responsible for our own fuck ups.

torn apart (dissolution) approaches this with a triptych of relationships in stark relief. A Polish student and an American soldier connect in 1980s West Germany; an Australian backpacker parties hard like it is 1999, realising that her boyfriend has fallen even harder despite her visa expiry date fast approaching; and also in London, in the present day, Holly’s love for Erica is challenged by long-reaching shadows from both of their pasts.

Continue reading “Review: torn apart (dissolution), Hope”