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What to see at Vault Festival 2017

With over 200 shows to choose from, it's hard to pick what to see at this year's Vault Festival. So here's our pick of the bunch

Regularly billed as 'a smaller, cooler Edinburgh', the annual Vaults Festival may not be as big or as sprawling as the Fringe but it does feature some of the most exciting emerging companies around. Taking place for six weeks from 25 January to 5 March in the underground venue in Waterloo, most shows are on for a handful of nights and really don't cost much. Tickets start at £5 and there are club nights, pop-up bars and restaurants to whet your appetite too. With over 200 shows on offer, it can be hard to know just what to see, so here's a choice selection of shows we'd definitely recommend.

A Year From Now

25 to 29 January

Theatre company RedBellyBlack asked 14 people: "Where do you see yourself a year from now?". The responses ranged from a child who wants to be a racing car driver to a 94-year-old who still wants to drive. Following a run at the Tristan Bates Theatre, five actors act out the answers using a combination of verbatim and physical theatre.

The Great Gatsby

25 to 29 January

You've probably read the book and longed for a chance to party like they did in the '20s. Well, this could be it. Presented by The Guild Of Misrule and The Immersive Ensemble, creatives from the likes of Secret Cinema and Les Enfant Terribles come together for this immersive adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald's novel. Dancing shoes are necessary.

© Julian Hughes


15 to 19 February

Ventoux is a dramatic retelling of the the 12th stage in the 2000 Tour de France, which was battled out by then-rising stars Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani. Each cyclist had one Tour under their belts, and whilst Armstrong went on to win many more (before that scandal), Pantani never raced again, and died of an overdose four years later. The production, directed by Matt Wilks, is performed with two road bikes, real race commentary and and video footage captured by theatre company 2Magpies as they cycled up Mount Ventoux.

The End of Dance

22 to 26 February

Yann Allsopp looks at what would happen if the government outlawed dance. The piece follows three local MPs who are forced underground to fight back at the prospect of having no one allowed to dance anymore, and what that would do to the country. It's been described as a 'contemporary dance version of The Thick of It'.

Thought To Flesh

22 to 26 February

Inspired by a true story and using research by University College London, Thought to Flesh looks into motor neurone disease. It follows Alice, who is diagnosed with MND, and looks at how it affects her life as she deals with a partner who turns abusive and loses the ability to speak. It is theatre company Birds of Passage's first production, and they are crowdfunding to take the show to the festival.

© Matt Whayman

Exactly Like You

25 to 29 January

Newcomer Lotte Rice plays a young woman who conjures up a dialogue with Nina Simone. Blending theatre, spoken word and the songs of Simone, Exactly Like You is directed by Fringe First Award-winner Kirsty Patrick Ward (Chef, by Sabrina Mahfouz).


25 to 29 January

Following their sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe, Waiting For The Call present their improvised musical in which they develop a movie on the spot with the help of their trusting audience. This sounds like an all-female version of the wonderful Showstopper, so you can count us in.


8 to 12 February

This new piece, featuring exciting musical theatre writer and actress Tori Allen Martin (Muted), tells the story of a homeless ex-teacher and ex-junkie, a year after they met on a night bus. Previously a play that toured rehabilitation centres, Rebecca Walker's piece now has songs by London-based band Eliza and the Bear.

© Maria Askew

The Jurassic Parks

8 to 12 February

The brilliant Superbolt Theatre return with their take on the classic Spielberg film. When they forget to pack the tape for a screening of the dino film, they are forced to act out all the characters, human and prehistoric, with hilarious and impressively clever results.

Space Play

25 to 29 January

Brave Badger Theatre present this wonderful-sounding space oddity. It follows hapless artist Michael, who sells his artistic soul to a national conglomerate and finds himself stranded in space as an astronaut. Lauren Pratt - who worked on designs for Les Enfants Terrible - designs this sci-fi set which has projections from Complicite collaborator Martin Dewar.

© Superbolt Theatre Company

Mars Actually

15 to 19 February

Superbolt charged onto the scene in 2015 with their hilarious tribute to Spielberg's dino classic Jurassic Park (see above – now called Jurassic Parks). Mars Actually is their new piece, a ‘kaleidoscopic' vision of life on Mars, which – if Jurassic Parks is anything to go by – will be worth checking out.

(© Helen Murray)

This Must be the Place

8 to 12 February

Excellent writer Brad Birch teams up with BAFTA-nominated writer Kenneth Emson on this piece, which is making its London debut at the Vaults. This Must be the Place follows Adam, a young Londoner trying to escape the Big Smoke and two friends trying to begin again in the city. Birch has written several well-received plays including The Brink and Even Stillness Breathes Softly Against a Brick Wall and this show should be a poetic look what it is to be a young adult today.

Becoming Shades

25 to 29 January

A dark, contemporary circus show which opened recently at Jackson's Lane, Becoming Shades brings together much more than just flexible joints and hoops. A mixture of music, movement, fire acrobatics and circus, the show tells the story of the myth of Persephone. It has been adapted anew for Vault Festival 2017. It looks gothic and weird and will be enhanced by the atmospheric underground space at the Vaults.

On the Crest of a Wave

15 to 19 February

Camilla Whitehill has written several excellent recent plays, not least Where do Little Birds Go which ran at the Old Red Lion last year and was about a nightclub hostess who found herself stuck in a locked room with a murderer. With this play she teams up with musical comedian Luke Courtier, and actors Kat Bond and Stephen Myott-Meadows to tell the story of a daughter throwing an unusual and fairly late funeral.

An image from James Rowland's debut piece Team Viking

A Hundred Different Words for Love

1 to 5 February

A Viking burial was the subject of James Rowland's first show, which opened at Edinburgh in 2016 and became an under-the-radar hit - even Stewart Lee threw praise at the show. The performer and writer has a warm, charming delivery and covers subjects that are both hilarious and sad at the same time. This piece is about love. And there's not much more we can say about it. But we'd wager it's one to check out.

For more information and listings for all the shows head to Vault Festival website.