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Fool Britannia @ Vault Festival review: An hour of silliness at Britain’s worst school

Fool Britannia. Brick Hall @ The Vaults. Vault Festival 2019.

fool britannia

Dan Lees and Neil Frost in Mad Etiquette’s Fool Britannia

One of the opening shows at this year’s Vault Festival was Fool Britannia. The two-man show is the brainchild of Dan Lees and Neil Frost, with the premise being an insight to Britain’s worst school. Lees and Frost’s company Mad Etiquette are famed for putting on shows combining modern clowning and interactive performances.

Arriving at the Brick Hall venue within the Vaults below Waterloo, we were a little worried when we were placed in the second row. When it comes to comedy and immersive theatre, I (like many others) prefer to stay far away from the accessible seating to the cast as possible over fears of being singled out. Fortunately, we needn’t have worried as the interactivity was at a perfectly comfortable level.

After a build up of some suitable school-esque music, such as Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall, we were introduced to Lees, wearing a gown and mortar board as the headmaster of the so-called worst school. His beginning of term address eased us in to the humour style with some throwaway comments about some rather dodgy goings on in school, suggesting the headmaster wasn’t so professional as you would hope. His co-star Frost soon joined him on stage as a meek and terrified supply teacher, who we were invited to throw plastic balls at. The physical comedy continued as we were taken on a haphazard story through Britain’s history, with caveman being nonsensical, Hadrian getting dismal dating advice from his builder and Vikings rowing their boats. A scene educating us about Shakespeare and the snobbery around his plays was particularly funny.

During the history segments, the show felt like a series of sketches. I really liked their choice of handmade props, which really added to the silliness. As the one-hour show progressed, the audience had really got caught up in the silliness of it all and were drawn in at times to become a part of the narrative. It took me a while to warm up to the humour style, but by the end I was laughing along at the whole ridiculousness of it all.

  • Vault Festival 2019 takes place from 23 January – 17 March 2019. The Vaults, 10 Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo and Lambeth North. Other venues include Network Theatre, Travelling Through…, The Horse & Stables and Unit 9. For booking, visit the Vault Festival website. For more information on Mad Etiquette, visit their website.

For Metro Girl’s top shows to watch at this year’s Vault Festival, click here.

For a guide to what’s on in London in February, click here.

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Vault Festival 2017: Music, theatre, film, comedy, parties and more at London’s fringe festival

© Will Hazel

The Vault Festival kicks off in Waterloo from 25 January – 5 March 2017.
© Will Hazel

Returning to Waterloo this winter is the biggest Vault Festival to date. Now in its fifth year, the six-week long fringe event will be expanding to two further local venues in addition to its home beneath Waterloo station. There’s something for everyone with music, theatre, film, comedy, parties, food, drinking and more.

Among the highlights of the festival, will be the chance to step into Jay Gatsby’s world in an immersive theatrical experience of The Great Gatsby.  Meanwhile, Superbolt Theatre return to the Vault Festival with two productions; their 2016 hit The Jurassic Parks, a hilarious spin on Spielberg’s blockbuster, and Mars Actually, a physical and funny vision of life on the red planet.

Turning circus on its head is Becoming Shades, a reimagining of the myth of Persephone using live music, aerial acrobatics, fire, dance and mime. The thought-provoking Thought To Flesh is a theatrical investigation into motor neuron disease (MND) using spoken word, multi-media and movement interpretation.

Vault Festival © Will Hazel

Head to The Vaults every weekend for the late-night parties
© Will Hazel

Meanwhile, movie fans will be able to enjoy the Vault’s Film Festival, featuring 20 different screenings. Among the premiers include dark_net staring Johnny Vegas and Love Comes Later, starring Sarita Choudhury (Homeland). There will also be a special screening of Red from award-winning director Branko Tomovic, a crime thriller about illegal backstreet surgery.

For party animals, the Vaults will be hosting late-night revelry every weekend, including the Galactic Love Valentine’s Ball, Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), The Nudge’s Great Gatsby Party, as well as the festival’s opening and closing parties presented by Time Out London.

Aside from the entertainment, there are plenty of opportunities for drinking and eating. The Balkano Kitchen will be serving dishes inspired by chef Martin H Shaw’s travels in Eastern Europe. There will be five bars across the three venues, with two themed bars presented in collaboration with Meantime beer and Campari. One of the more intriguing drinking spots will be The Neath, an immersive, subterranean members bar for the supernatural produced and curated by the team behind The Crystal Maze.

  • The Vaults Festival takes place from 25 January – 5 March 2017 at The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN and Network Theatre, 246a Lower Road, Waterloo, SE1 8SJ. Nearest station: Waterloo. Shows will also be on at Morley College, 61 Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7HT. Nearest station: Lambeth North (open from mid-Feb). For more information and tickets, visit The Vault Festival website.

For a guide to what else is on in March, click here.

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Foodie talks, music, comedy and more as Live At Zédel launches

Live At Zédel

Gizzi Erskine and Grace Dent will be among the names appearing at Live At Zédel

The Zédel building in Piccadilly is a pretty special place. It comprises of the Brasserie, Crazy Coqs and Bar Américain – located in the former basement of the Regent Palace Hotel, which stood on the site until 2016. The three venues feature the stunning, original Art Deco interiors designed by Oliver Percy Bernard in the 1930s, making you feel like you have stepped into an Agatha Christie novel set on a luxurious cruise liner. While many people know of the Zédel building as a place to eat or drink, it’s soon to be a new hotspot for West End arts events.

Launching this month, ‘Live At Zédel’ will host a series of events, featuring music, theatre, comedy and literature. Londoners of all ages will find a place to whet their cultural appetite – whatever their interests – at evenings in the Brasserie and Crazy Coqs spaces. The bill will include a diverse range of established and upcoming talent, with names such as Doc Brown, Grayson Perry and the Philharmonia Orchestra.

This week (21-24 September 2016) will be themed Food Week, with Gizzi Erskine, Grace Dent, Levi Roots and Jay Rayner sharing their foodie knowledge.

Acclaimed songwriter Scott Alan has been appointed Artistic Director in Residence for the Autumn season. He will bring a host of musical theatre talent to Zédel, including Shoshana Bean, Rachel Tucker, Mark Shenton and Julie Atherton. Meanwhile, a host of music acts from across the genres will also perform, such as Maria Friedman, Sam Smith’s pianist Reuben James, singer-songwriter Jono McCleery, X Factor winner Matt Cardle, drag super-group DENIM, La Voix and Crazy Coqs’ favourite Miss Hope Springs.

Diners at the Brasserie can head upstairs to the Crazy Coqs for some post-meal jazz at the ‘After Hours’ and ‘The Early Late Show’. However, if comedy floats your boat, Girl power troupe Birthday Girls, Theatre With Legs, the Althea Theatre’s new show Double Trouble, and Dolls Eye Theatre’s Might Never Happen will also be performing.

  • Live At Zedel takes place at Crazy Coqs or Brasserie Zédel, 20 Sherwood Street, Soho, W1F 7ED. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus. Matinee times: 3-6pm, early evening: 7pm, evening: 9pm, late night: 11pm. For more information, visit the Brasserie Zedel website.

For a guide to what else is on in London, click here.

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Roll up, roll up to the Spiegeltent: Comedy, music, acrobatics and more come to Canary Wharf

Ready Steady Colour

Ready Steady Colour, an interactive theatre experience for families, is among the entertainment at the Spiegeltent in Canary Wharf this September

With its skyscraper offices and busy professionals, Canary Wharf is usually associated with work. However, this September, the area is getting a huge injection of fun in the form of a 11 day festival in The Spiegeltent. Pitching up at Canary Square Park, The Spiegeltent will host comedy, music, dance, cabaret, acrobatics, theatre for both adults and families.

Opening the festival is award-winning Las Vegas veteran Peggy Sued with a variety night, featuring Pete Firman, Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer, Rod Laver, Felipe Reyes and burlesque bombshell Sophia St Villier. There’ll be the unique blend of circus swing and burlesque folk of Gabby Young + Other Animals plus the Nest Collective House Ceilidh Band.

Boudoir Circus 2

Aircraft Circus presents Boudoir Circus, a sexy mix of acrobatics and dance
© Dimitris Amvrazis

One of the Spiegeltent’s biggest acts will be Scotland’s internationally acclaimed and award-winning ‘half-man-half-Xbox’ Daniel Sloss, brining his Edinburgh Festival hit show Dark.

On 15 September, Alex Horne and The Horne Section will be getting the crowd laughing with their new barnstorming mix of stand-up and music. Turning circus on its head will be the Aircraft Circus presenting Boudoir Circus, a dark and sexy soiree with acrobatics and dance.

As well as performances, there will be workshops too so you can acquire new skills and entertain the children. Learn to dance with the London Academy Of Dance, create your own scrapbook with Shimelle and ice gingerbreads to perfection with Serena Montesissa. The kids will be able to burn off some energy at the Big Fish Little Fish and their Family Rave. Or get the children into comedy early at Comedy Club 4 Kids, with stand-up and sketch from Luke Toulson, Bec Hill and Howard Read. Other family entertainment includes musical workshops by Boppin Bunnies, Bach to Baby and Theatre of Widdershins performing their musical puppetry show The Elves and The Shoemaker.

Other acts performing over the festival include improvisation comedy champions BattleActs!, psychic siblings Twins Macabre, BBC Folk Club winners The Nest Collective, Nepalese band Night and impressionist, art-folk ensemble Firefly Burning.

During the festival, there will a bar providing refreshments while the many restaurants and bars of Canary Wharf will be moments away should you wish to eat.

  • The Spiegeltent will run at Canary Wharf from 10-20 September 2015. The tent will be pitched at Canada Square Park, Canary Wharf, E14 5AH. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. Ticket prices range from free to £16 depending on event. For most tickets, visit SeeTickets, or for Daniel Sloss tickets, visit LiveNation.

For a guide to what else is on in London in September, click here.

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Comedy In The Courtyard: Alfresco laughs in St Martin’s Courtyard

St Martin's Comedy Festival

Aisling Bea and Joel Dommett are on the bill of the St Martin’s Comedy Festival

If you can’t get up to the Edinburgh Fringe this year, why not let the a taste of fringe come to you? St Martin’s Courtyard in Covent Garden is holding a one-day, free comedy mini-festival later this month. Situated in a courtyard off Long Acre, guests will be able to pull up a seat at an open-air pop-up comedy club.

On the bill at Comedy In The Courtyard are top British and Irish comedians, including Aisling Bea, Justin Moorhouse and Joel Dommett. Ireland’s funny woman Bea, known for her TV appearances on Russell Howard’s Good News, McIntyre’s Roadshow, Live at the Apollo and Cardinal Burns, will be headlining. Phoenix Nights fans will recognise radio DJ and comedian Moorhouse, while Dommett is one of the fastest rising stars on the comedy circuit. Chris Gilbert, who has hosted events for Ricky Gervais, Michael McIntyre and Tim Vine, will be overseeing the evening as compere.

The event will take place on Thursday 30 July 2015 at 7.30pm. Tickets are free, but you need to register your place online through a ballot. Winners will be contacted one week before the event, giving a ticket and a plus one to seats in the courtyard. There will also be a small allocation on the door from 6.30pm on a first come, first served basis. Meanwhile, Italian wine bar Dalla Terra will be serving wine and bubbles from their pop-up bar during the show.

There’s also a competition to win pair of VIP tickets for those who follow St Martin’s Courtyard on Twitter @SMCCoventGarden and keep checking the website.

  • Comedy In The Courtyard takes place on 30 July 2015 at 7.30pm. St Martin’s Courtyard, WC2E 9AB. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. For more information and to register for your free ticket, visit the St Martin’s Courtyard website.

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

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