Home, Ovalhouse

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Scarlet and Olive were left behind when the evacuation transport left their town without them. A dust storm has rendered their home a foreign landscape. They have five days until the transport will return to collect any stragglers, and news is due over the radio at any time between now the then. The resourceful young women must work together to find water and build a shelter so they can survive until someone comes back to get them, and the audience of people with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) is there to help.

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Bubble Schmeisis, Battersea Arts Centre

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Nick Cassenbaum grew up in London’s Jewish community and experienced all the cultural mores that go with it – Spurs games, dubious summer camps, trips to Israel and discovering his willy isn’t like the other boys’ at school. Like many young people as he got older, he hadn’t quite found his place in the world. Until he went with his grandfather, Papa Alan, to the Canning Town bathhouse.

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The Lock In, VAULT Festival

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It’s St Patrick’s Day at an Irish pub in London. We’ve been there for awhile, but the night is young. There’s a five-strong band more focused on arguing the facts of Irish history than playing music. This becomes the story – drunken frontman Eamonn (Ian Horgan) attempts to tell us the story of the venerable saint. Numerous diversions, interaction, songs and plenty of banter follows a convoluted path through the power of storytelling, national identity and the veracity of history.

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The Long Trick, VAULT Festival

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Tristan is the stuff of Cornish legends. The Robin Hood-esque figure who lives along the Helford River gives much needed gifts to local people the moment they reach utter despair – or so people believe. The reality is rather different. Tristan does live on the Helford, on a boat with his teenaged daughter Kelsey. He can’t find a job so steals electronics from second homes and sells them on to make a living. He occasionally helps out locals when he’s feeling flush, but his virtue is up for debate. When Tristan meets Gale, a vegan activist who suddenly appears in Cornwall after years of drifting around Europe, his world is transformed, but not quite in the manner he expects.

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Testament, VAULT Festival

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by guest critic Michael Davis

The idea of retelling biblical stories is nothing new. During the infancy of European theatre, the Mystery plays were popular for showing highlights of the Bible. Much later, during the 17th century, John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost would – contrary to author’s intentions – spur an interest in the anti-hero and biblical stories from a revisionist perspective. People over the centuries have questioned aspects of the Bible that they’ve found problematic for various reasons. Directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson, Tristan Bernays’ Testament not only addresses some of the problematic passages, but also give a voice to minor characters in the Bible.

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On the Crest of a Wave, VAULT Festival

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Camilla Whitehill’s grandmother died when her dad was 10 years old. He never talked much about her, but Camilla is fascinated by this woman she never met. Inspired by familial memory and grief, Whitehill and five other theatre makers draw on their own histories to create a playful homage to the endurance of family stories. It’s a joyful experience with a retro seaside aesthetic and a big heart, though lacking in polish and a consistent throughline.

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Save + Quit, VAULT Festival

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Joe and Steph are two lonely Londoners, and Cara and Dylan are dealing with grief in Dublin. The four young people, in two pairs of intertwined stories, disclose their anxieties and struggles in narrative monologues that are strong examples of moving storytelling. But they are only loosely linked thematically, and there is little that conveys a wider reason for placing these characters within the same work. The stories command attention as do the performances, but the question of why they are presented together never disappears.

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