There’s excitement in the air and definitely some damp too… Wait, that must mean Vault Festival 2020 is nearly upon us. How has it been a year already? As part of our annual tradition, members of the AYT team have put together their top picks of most anticipated shows. Expect horror (in more ways than one), powerful, marginalised voices coming to the fore, and some nepotism. How very dare we.

Alice Flynn, Reading Reviewer and Features Writer

I’m really excited for Elf Lyon’s Gorgon: A Horror Story, which combines two of my favourite things: Greek mythology and horror movies. Gorgon looks at the taboo topic of female anger, which promises a fresh take on the Medusa myth. It also uses live foley sound effects, which I’m excited about. Foley is an art form that is often underappreciated, and it’s actually how a lot of big horror films get the sounds effects for their particularly gruesome scenes, so I’m super excited to see how this is going to be done live.

Elf Lyon’s GORGON: A Horror Story runs from Feb 5 – 9.

I also can’t wait for Patricia Gets Ready For A Date With A Man Who Hit Her by Martha Watson Allpress. It’s about a survivor who bumps into her abusive ex and accidentally agrees to go on a date with him. I’m excited to see this because the stories of survivors don’t really get told as much as they should be. A lot of the time, when I’ve seen plays about abusive relationships and recover, the focus is usually on the abuser or how to prevent abuse, so it’s really affirming to hear about a show which tracks Patricia’s recovery and how she built herself up again. This is Martha Watson Allpress’ first full length play, and it was so popular when it opened at The White Bear theatre, it was brought back for a second run. I’m really excited to hear what this new playwright has to offer – it sounds very promising.

Patricia Gets Ready For A Date With A Man Who Hit Her runs from Feb 5 – 9.

Having seen her perform twice before, I’m really excited to see Sophie Duker’s new work in progress. Duker is a refreshing voice on the UK comedy scene and her shows are packed with energy, offbeat wit and sharp social criticism. She describes herself as a ‘triple threat minority’ – a black woman who is queer – and her recent show, VENUS, was packed with playful but poignant observations about race, sexuality and gender. She’s hilarious, bold and uncompromising, and I think she’s fantastic. She’s one to watch for sure.

Sophie Duker (Work in Progress) will play on March 4.

Nina Cave, London Reviewer

Katie Arnstein’s Sexy Lamp unpicks what it means to be a female actor, and the abuse that can come at the hands of the performance industry and your vulnerability as a woman. In her hour-long show, Arnstein describes her journey to London from a Midlands drama school, and her quest to find an agent and become a successful actor. Her show is named after the theory of the ‘SexyLamp’ which measures how relevant a female character is to a plot. The show particularly focuses on how women are forced to say yes for fear of losing jobs and her story shows us how important the #MeToo movement is. I saw this at Edinburgh Fringe at Pleasance and it made me cry – such a beautiful piece.

Sexy Lamp plays on Feb 16.

Jay Grainger, London Reviews Coordinator

I find the idea of Tarot readings quite interesting but mostly they make me feel a little uneasy. I’m excited to see Tarot: The Feathers of Daedalus Circus and not only learn more about what it means to be read like an open book but to discover what the world you’re connecting with is saying. I love the thought of becoming a burlesque performer in the future and am already playing around with drag. Coming from a background in physical and musical theatre, I am excited by what this show might have to offer.

Tarot runs from Jan 28 – Feb 1.

Having dealt with grief after losing a close family member to cancer, I struggled to be, as a performer, creative and positive afterwards. I felt slightly guilty for carrying on with my life when they had gone, felt guilty for those still in mourning when I had days I wanted to move on, or put on a flamboyant dress. I changed a lot as a person and as an actor and I feel I would really connect with Simon David’s Over My Dad’s Body in a lot of ways. I think grief within the arts is something we need to speak about more and I applaud this play for its bravery. It’s one I am most definitely going to try and see.

Over My Dad’s Body runs from Jan 28 – Feb 1.

As a gay man, I am often over aware of the people around me and especially on public transport but I think that unfortunatley, we have to be. I am very lucky to have had a family support system that, though not perfect, was there when coming out and can’t begin to relate to or imagine what’s it like for those who are pushed out of their family home and especially at a young age. I feel that as a gay man, I should learn more about the stories of those from my community, find out what people are still going through and what more can be done to help. Just because I can now feel free to live with my partner, get married, wear a dress to a party, am I safe to just be? I don’t think so… I do not always feel like I know where I fit in and even Gay Pride, for example, does not always represent every voice in our community. How do we change that? I think Tony Tang’s Passion on the Night Tube, will give some great insight to stories we should be hearing more of, in theatre, film, literature and in conversation.

Passion On The Night Tube runs from Jan 29 – Feb 2.

I’m looking forward to seeing Creative Destruction’s I Don’t Know What To Do because this is the exact mindset I have constantly – like on a daily basis. As a vegan who runs the podcast ‘It all Vegan With friends’, I am repeatedly asked questions like, “do you drink almond milk and did you know that it uses more water than dairy?” Yes I do know that, I read it in one of the many books I ploughed through before making a decision that I thought was best. It’s incredibly hard to be perfect today, but I believe we could be kinder to each other when working it all out. This piece might bring comfort to myself and others in knowing we’re not alone in our thoughts, but also like every piece on this subject, it will probably make me question some personal choices and that’s a good thing. We can never be over confident that we are right and I’m excited to hear what this show will have to say.

I Don’t Know What To Do runs from Jan 30 – 31.

Emma Bentley, Features Writer

I will be clearing a date in my diary to go and see Small Myth. I admit that Holly Robinson (writer) is a pal, however, we all remember THAT review of Lyn Gardner’s for her debut play, Soft Animals at Soho Theatre don’t we?! Well, if not: “a rare tonal certainty, spinning between the sharply funny and the heart-breaking.” Wowzers. Aside from this nepotism, I am keen to see things about climate change. It’s constantly on my mind, fuelling my anxiety and I need some theatre that will either calm or embolden me to want to fight for change. And I reckon this dream team of producers and writers can do it. 

Small Myth runs from Feb 18 – 20.

After interviewing Francesca Forristel last year for a piece on the making of her show, Oddball, I knew that without even seeing it, this was an artist whose work I wanted to follow. Witty, smart and imaginative, the show is just like her and it’s a real cathartic one for anyone who’s experienced eating disorders in the past (talking from experience), without being triggering or patronising. Forristel invites us into her thoughts exactly as they are: messy, sometimes hopeful, sometimes bemused, sometimes damn right tired of everything. She is a blooming impressive performer as well – I love multirolling in a solo show and she nails each character to an absolute T.

Oddball runs from Feb 14 – 16.

Samuel Sims, Managing Director

Who can resist a good argument and some cycling in their theatre show? I can’t get enough of either to be honest. Over the course of an hour, This Bitch Can Heal tells the story of Jack and their girlfriend as the former races towards Extinction Rebellion after a fight. It’ll be interesting to see how last year’s remarkable protest will be treated here and whether it will be used as a plot point, rather than a very real issue. Domestic ‘dramas’ really fascinate me as more often than not, audiences are going to find some relatability and connection to them so with some sharp, inciteful writing, this could be a cracker.

This Bitch Can Heal runs from Jan 28 – 30.

Returning to the Vaults after last year’s A Hundred Words for Snow, is Something Awful by Flux Theatre and Director-writer duo Lucy Jane Atkinson and Tatty Hennessy. The show is inspired by the real true crime story of the Slenderman, most recently depicted in a critically-panned film but a chilling and intriguing story nonetheless. I’m obsessed with giving myself sleepless nights and mild heart attacks so this should be fun…

Something Awful runs from Jan 28 – Feb 2.

Brand new company, Scripped Up, which champions D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers comes to the Vaults with Tinted, a revolutionary disabled response to the #metoo hashtag. It’s disappointing that there aren’t more shows this year (or any for that matter), led by disabled artists so every effort should be made to get ourselves over to this one.

Tinted runs from Feb 11 – 16.