Vault Festival 2023 – Our pick of the best booking shows with Bloody Mary: Live to Good Grief

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After a two-year hiatus, the Vault Festival returns with 500 shows over the next two months at venues dotted around Waterloo. Here are 12 shows you must see.

Viewers take part in this interactive, improvised performance about a group of friends trying to return to civilization and survive in the wilderness after a plane crash. In this horror from the theater company Chronic Insanity, the decisions of the viewers drive the plot, as well as the number of characters who survive the ordeal.

From 24 to 28 January

    (Photo by Ashley Garrett)

(Photo by Ashley Garrett)

The musical about the wives of Henry VIII became an international phenomenon thanks to Six after the festival began. So why not standing with Henry’s daughter, Mary Tudor? Olivia Miller steps on the mic as a teenage resurrection queen to rehabilitate her so-called “bloody” image. It’s cruel stand-up that covers all the drama the “queenager” faces, from divorced parents to religious purges. The show also played in Edinburgh last summer.

From 24 to 29 January

Polish actor, writer and producer Remi Rachuba, who has worked with Dreamthinkspeak and Katie Mitchell, premiered his solo play Intruder at the Edinburgh Fringe last summer, performing it in English and Polish. He then brought art, which The Scotsman described as “complex and disturbing”, to London and Warsaw. It tells the story of a Pole who comes to Scotland to fulfill his dreams of becoming an actor, only to encounter traumatic events.

From January 28 to 29

    (Diana's patient)

(Diana’s patient)

With an intriguing performance of “Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness meets Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, The Ballerina demands more research. This immersive production takes place in a country “far, far, not so far away” where a British diplomat is arrested by intelligence on charges of plotting to overthrow the government. It is a program that explores democracy, putting the African continent at the center of the discussion. It premiered in New York in 2019 at Theaterlab NYC.

From January 31 to February 5

It’s an art about deepfake technology that allows you to manipulate images so that anyone can pretend to be someone else – a somewhat scary prospect. Sockpuppet follows the lives of three college students as they explore the thorny underbelly of the internet from their college digs. Utilizing live camera work, video projection, and real-time deep spoofing software, this is a program that might ask the question – your face or mine?

From February 1 to February 2

Amy Beth Hayes, who has starred in the TV series Bridgerton and Mr Selfridge, as well as on stage in Jerusalem, makes her writing/directing debut with Cracked, set in Topps Tiles off A road. Disturbing and unsettling, with a complex character at heart, who not only knows everything about tiles, this series offers a heroine for our times.

From February 7 to 10

    (Bjorn Bauer)

(Bjorn Bauer)

This is a new play by Tom Powell, who won the Papatango Award for New Writing in 2021 and was a member of the BBC Studios Writers Academy, working on Holby City and EastEnders. Resurfacing is about Luc, an NHS therapist, who almost drowns, and when he comes to the surface, her world changes completely. This two-handed camera uses motion sensor technology with motion-responsive video design and composition to create a “modern world on the other side of the mirror.”

14 to 19 February

The debut performance of the theater group FlawBored, led by people with disabilities, aroused great interest at the festival this year. This black comedy about cashing in on identity politics follows blind talent manager Tim as he tries to make disability another cultural differentiator… and thinks he’s hit the jackpot with blind influencer Ross. This won the LET Greenwich Theater Award 2022.

From February 21 to 26

After two sold-out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, In Pursuet, written by Eleanor Higgins and starring Eleanor Higgins, will make its first appearance at the Vault Festival. The “woman” is in a therapist’s office, sent there to deal with an alcohol problem. But she feels like she doesn’t need help, and what she really wants is Sue Perkins. They are destined for each other, and she sets off in pursuit of love. Higgins was described as “excellent” in this one-woman show about addiction and obsession.

From February 25 to March 5

Billed as “STICKY, SEXY and eXXXtra HOT”, the UK’s only queer cabaret collective The Bitten Peach have arrived at the festival’s new venue – Flair Ground – for a spicy show. Last year, the group, which included over 70 artists, performed at Glastonbury and was the subject of the Netflix documentary short Peach Paradise: Redefining Asian Drag, which can be found on YouTube. Founded in 2019, The Bitten Peach group is growing from strength to strength.

From February 25 to 26

Here’s the badminton comedy you didn’t know you needed. It started as a work in progress at the Omnibus Theater in Clapham and now, some three years later, it’s here at the Vault Festival. Set at the end of the 19th centuryp This raucous comedy from the Incognito Theater Company tells the story of a five-man badminton team sent to take down a mysterious beast terrorizing the English countryside.

From 7 to 12 March

In Good Grief, award-winning physicals company Ugly Bucket processes the death of a friend through “a kinetic whirlwind of outrageous clowns, personal confessions, and a thumping techno soundtrack.” The show, which won the Untapped Award and played to a packed house at the Edinburgh Fringe, began with a real experience when a terminally ill mentor of the theater’s founders asked them to perform a 10-minute performance at his memorial. They quickly realized that they had more than enough material for a full play of grief and the memories that remain.

From 14 to 18 March

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