Storytelling – the simple kind where a small group of people sit in the dark and simply share wild and wonderful tales – is an inherent part of being human. In this instance, combining this instinct with improvisation, and audience interaction results in a story following a group of friends trying to find their way out of a plane crash. The audience is the group of friends, and Joe Strickland quietly narrates the set-up. Soon, Strickland introduces a chose-your-own-adventure type of moment that leads to many more. The concept is fun and the audience enthusiastically engages, but the execution raises questions about audience autonomy and the limits of improv.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the theatre industry interrogated rehearsal room dynamics and called for them to become ‘safe spaces’ where people are free from abuse. Whether or not productive change has actually occurred is up for debate, but this show proclaims that the concept of a safe rehearsal is highly subjective – what is safe for one person may not be for another. In this energetic and highly sensorial piece, actor/writer Rhys Hastings considers how growing up in an abusive home impacts all aspects of his life, including his acting work.
Ildiko is half German and half Hungarian. Rosie is half English and half Irish. The two women explore what this might mean, along with how culture, ancestry and migration, make us who we are. Their journey takes the form of an elegant cabaret similar to vintage variety TV shows. Traditional music and folk songs intersperse poignant extracts of personal narrative to make this moving patchwork of stories and anecdotes that make them who they are.
This is my first show at the Vault Festival, which has been on hiatus until now since the pandemic started in 2020. London’s version of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, this is a wonderful festival in the tunnels underneath Waterloo station that hosts almost 2 months’ worth of new shows, cabaret and stand-up comedy.
Project Atom Boi follows the story of Yuanzi (Xiaonan Wang), a doomer who, pressured by a self-indulgent Filmmaker (Francesca Marcolina), starts re-exploring the memories of her childhood in China. Yuanzi grew up in Factory 404, a Cold War ghost town in the Gansu province that was built in the fifties with the sole purpose of hosting a nuclear weapon. As Yuanzi travels back in time, we also meet her childhood best friend Erdan and her grandfather (both played by Kelvin Chan).
Originally from the Roddy Doyle book, which was also adapted into a wonderful Neil Jordan film, this is the latest touring version of the musical, The Commitments. Set in 1980’s Dublin, this is the story of a young band coming together to ‘bring soul’ to Ireland, before it all falls apart. Featuring a great soundtrack of soul songs, this has been around in some form in the UK for the last 10 years, and for good reason.