Blog Archives

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.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The best shows to see at Vault Festival 2019 as London’s fringe fest returns to Waterloo

Find out what shows to check out at this year’s Vault Festival, the capital’s very own fringe arts festival running from 23 January – 17 March.

vault festival © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

The Vault Festival returns to Waterloo

Vault Festival is returning to Waterloo this January for two months of entertainment. London’s very own fringe festival is back in the atmospheric Victorian tunnels below Waterloo mainline station. Over eight weeks, over 2,000 artists will perform in over 400 shows. Londoners will be entertained by theatre, comedy, cabaret, immersive experiences, late night parties and more. Now in its seventh year, Vault Festival runs from 23 January to 17 March 2019. As well as giving a platform to rising new talents from the arts world, proceeds from ticket sales go to Help Refugees and Child.org’s Team Mum campaign.

Here’s Metro Girl’s recommendations of shows to check out at the Vault Festival 2019:

  • Fool Britannia

Pay a visit to Britain’s worst school! Masters of the absurd Dan Lees and Neil Frost take you back to your school days with an hour of side-splitting comedy. Taunt the supply teacher, bunk off PE and get caught smoking behind the bike shed.

23 – 26 January. Brick Hall @ The Vaults. Tickets: £12. For more information and tickets, click here.

Yours Sincerely © elafris photography

Yours Sincerely
© elafris photography

  • Yours Sincerely

A queer coming-of-age comedy exploring the complications of communicating in the 21st century. After accidentally stealing 300 2nd class stamps, Will Jackson decides to revive letter writing as he puts pen to paper and gets in touch with old friends and ex-boyfriends. Based on actual correspondence, Will tells the story through the letters and lip-sync cabaret. The show was originally produced by the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in November 2018 for their Foundry Artist festival.

30 January – 3 February. Cage @ The Vaults. Tickets: £12. For more information and tickets, click here.

  • Salaam

A thought-provoking new play by Sara Aniqah Malik explores what it means to be a Muslim in London today. Telling the story through two Muslim women using live music and performance, Salaam explores mental health issues and racial abuse.

30 January – 3 February. Cavern @ The Vaults. Tickets: £15. For more information and tickets, click here.

  • Infinity

Go on a universal quest to find hope in a galaxy of loneliness. A lone astronaut is on a one-way mission the edge of the universe. This Dublin Fringe play is presented by Nessa Matthews with Eoghan Carrick.

6 – 10 February. Network Theatre. Tickets: £12. For more information and tickets, click here.
Read the rest of this entry

Neverland at Vault Festival review: An immersive journey through mirth and misfortune

© S R Taylor Photography

Peter Llewelyn Davies (Michal Ish-Horowicz) takes flight in Neverland at The Vaults
© S R Taylor Photography

One of the headline shows at this year’s Vault Festival is Neverland, an immersive theatre musical experience. Following its successful debut in Sheffield last year, the production has an eight-week run at the atmospheric tunnels below Waterloo station. The show is from The Guild of Misrule, the company behind the hit Great Gatsby Musical from last year’s festival. Arriving at The Vaults from the Leake Street tunnel, you follow the neon lights to reach Neverland at the end. As with many immersive theatre productions, you need to let down your guard and embrace the madness, preparing to take on a character or revert to childhood. For Neverland, be prepared to do both.

Upon entering, audience members are greeted by some of the Lost Boys and the Llewelyn Davies family, who quiz you with childlike wonder with innocent questions and Edwardian references. My friend, who works online, completely confused Michael Llewelyn Davies (Casey Jay Andrews) by trying to explain the internet and Google. The premise is the story of author JM Barrie’s (Dominic Allen) relationship with the Llewelyn Davies family, who inspired the characters of Peter Pan. There are many elements of the Pan storyline interwoven with how Barrie came up with the plot as we jump from Edwardian Kensington to Neverland to WWI.  Read the rest of this entry

Vault Festival 2018: Comedy, theatre and immersive experiences as London’s biggest arts festival returns

Vault Festival 2018

The Vault Festival returns to the tunnels underneath Waterloo station
© Vault Festival

Returning to the tunnels underneath Waterloo this winter is one of the country’s biggest arts festivals. Now its in sixth year, the Vault Festival features over 300 shows over eight weeks. Expect a jam-packed schedule of comedy, film, circus, musicals, theatre, immersive experiences and late-night parties. As well taking over the atmospheric and historic tunnels, the festival is also expanding to satellite venues such as Waterloo East Theatre and Network Theatre. Expect to see homegrown and international talent, with a spotlight on names to watch at the Vault New Writers Award.

One of this year’s big shows is Neverland, an immersive musical adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale. Guests will come face-to-face with glittering pirates, mermaids, food fights, absinthe bars and live music from a band of lost boys. If immersive experiences floats your boat, there is also Caravan, a journey through hip-hop dance, or Lamplighters, an improvised spy story in the style of John Le Carre.

If you want to be amazed, there’s plenty of mind-blowing circus acts, including the Chivaree Circus’ award-winning re-imagining of the Persephone myth, Becoming Shades. Explore hypnotism with David Aula and Simon Evans in their show The Vanishing Mankind, or be wowed by the brilliant Madhi The Magician, who was born without hands or feet. There will also be a busy comedy schedule, with Joe Lycett, Bridget Christie, Richard Gadd, Phil Wang and Adam Riches, Mat Ewins, Graham Dickson and Joe Sutherland aiming to tickle your funny bone.

The Vault Festival promises to showcase some of the best female and BAME talent, with over 52 per cent of shows written or directed by women. Fringe First winner Katie Bonna explores gender conditioning in Paper Scissors Stone, while Edinburgh hit Glitter Punch deals with student/teacher relationship boundaries. Nicole Acquah examines racism in the UK in her powerful piece For a Black Girl, while round-table discussions on gender equality will also be providing food for thought.

Among the late-night parties at the weekends, includes Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Ball, St Patrick’s Day, the South London Soul Train and the opening and closing bashes. As well as all the entertainment, there will be plenty of options to keep you fed and watered with intimate themed bars and street food stalls.

  • The Vault Festival runs from 24 January – 18 March 2018 and takes place at The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN; Network Theatre, 246a Lower Road, SE1 8SJ and Waterloo East Theatre, Brad Street, SE1 8TN. Nearest stations: Waterloo or Lambeth North. For more information and tickets, visit the Vault Festival website.

Read Metro Girl’s review of Neverland at The Vaults.

To find out what else is on in March, click here.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

New Orleans comes to London at Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras celebration in The Vaults

Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras

Drinking, dancing and fun at the Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras party at The Vaults in Waterloo

This February, the spirit of New Orleans is coming to London with a Mardi Gras carnival and party. As part of the six-week Vault Festival in the tunnels below Waterloo station, there will be a two-day celebration of Fat Tuesday on 5 and 6 February 2016.

Kansas Smitty’s and Shotgun Carousel are teaming up to host a late night party, featuring live music, costume parade, dancing and lots of liquor. The Kansas Smitty’s House Band will be trekking over from their East London home to bring the carnival spirit to the South Bank as they lead a parade fronted by the performers of Shotgun Carousel. Smitty’s House Band will bring the New Orleans’ 9th Ward to The Vaults with their ‘swamp rock’ blend of funk, soul, zydeco and brass band classics.

Guests will be encouraged to wear their most elaborate, imaginative and outlandish costumes with prizes for the best, with The King and Queen of Mardi Gras being crowned during the festivities.

Fat Tuesday – Mardi Gras takes place during the six-week Vault Festival, an art festival featuring live music, dance, drama, comedy and late-night parties across eight venues, three bars and a restaurant.

  • Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras takes place on 5 and 6 February 2016 from 10pm-3am. At The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo or Lambeth North. Tickets: £12. For tickets, visit MardiGrasLdn.com. For more information about The Vault Festival, click here.

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

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Head underground as The Vault Festival returns to Waterloo

© Jack Abraham

The Vault Festival returns to The Vaults underneath Waterloo station
© Jack Abraham

From the end of January for six weeks, the Vault Festival returns to the tunnels below Waterloo station. The unthemed, arts event, which originally started in 2012, features 500 events, including theatre, comedy, music, entertainment, food and drink.

Situated underground at The Vaults, this year’s festival will feature London premieres of radical theatre company Filter’s Macbeth, a new play True Brits from Rich Mason Productions and HighTide Festival Theatre, as well as shows from interactive artists Artful Badger, Red Bastard’s longest ever run and comedian and performance artist Yve Blake.

On Wednesdays and Sundays, a music programme has been curated by Mercury Prize nominee and contemporary folk pioneer Sam Lee’s The Nest Collective. For those looking for some after-hours action on the weekend, there will be late night parties on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays up until 3am. Among the Vault Lates events include The Love & Lightning Valentine’s Ball (13-14 February), Kansas Smitty’s Collective’s speakeasy club (31 January), Jum Jum old school house and garage (30 January), Mardi Gras (20-21 February) and Time Out Presents Filth – a silent disco with a difference (7 February), among others.

© Jack Abraham

The festival bar will be open nightly featuring drinks and music
© Jack Abraham

For younger arts fans, there is mini Vault over three weekends for families, including a comedy club, Big Fish Little Fish family raving crew with their Magic Under London rave (8 March) and interactive children’s show Albee Vector The Sound Collector.

Vault Festival Director Tim Wilson said: ‘We programme for Lambeth, for London, for the UK and for everyone. We make sure the festival has a pulse of many voices – there are 500 individual events happening at Vault, chosen by mixture of invitation, public submission and charitable competition, so each day has a unique heartbeat… It is now the longest, biggest, broadest-programme, most central performing arts Festival in London, all behind one magical door in Waterloo. It is a madness of superlatives. And you can drop by anytime and discover us, and surprise yourself, for free.’

Tickets range from free to £15. For those unorganised to get tickets in advance, the festival bar is free and will be open nightly for drinks and dancing.

  • The Vault Festival runs from 28 January – 8 March 2015 and takes place at The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information and tickets, visit the Vault Festival website.

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

Follow my blog with Bloglovin