Today's full programme, more choices & comment

Coming Out Of My Cage (And I’ve Been Doing Just Fine) Shepard Tone

4 stars As a concept, it could be madness or genius: an hour-long celebration of Mr Brightside, the monotonic song with the driving beat that might just rank as the nation’s favourite earworm. It’s a funny, self-aware and ultimately touching tribute, dressed up as a podcast-style investigation. But you needn’t need to be a Killers fan to appreciate it, for this is a universal celebration - a salute to bittersweet memories and to experiences shared. Read the full review.

The song ‘Mr Brightside’ hasn't left the UK charts in 16 years. How did it end up like this? It was only a hit, it was only a hit. <br/>Tim and Hannah come across a viral video of an Irish bar singing ‘Mr Brightside’ to their recently departed friend. Reading online comments they uncover a series of stories of incredible people who are all celebrated by those around them - all united by one song. Tim, Hannah and the audience conduct an investigation into the chart-busting phenomena, taking them from that small Irish bar to a karaoke booth in Nevada and back to an English Students Union bathroom. Combining karaoke and fun audience interactions with on-stage explorations into how this song touched the world and became an anthem for millions and giving you an unashamedly good night out in the process.


TALK PROPA is a celebration of all things northern. <br/>Sick of the endless presentations of northern women as the clown, ‘chav’ or someone that lives such a dire life in the grim darkness that is The North™, that they must escape and move to the wonderful South... TALK PROPA is a truly northern f*ck you to the southern elite. <br/>Two women from across the north of England explore their relationship with their accents and the prejudice they’ve faced as a result. Featuring music from the one and only Cheryl, queen of the North, these lasses take on the stereotypes they are constantly reduced to (with a cuppa tea in hand of course). <br/>Southerners, buckle up. <br/>Through comedy, direct address and experimental video and sound design, TALK PROPA radically deconstructs the concept of a ‘generic northern accent’. A spotlight on the intersection of class, accent and gender prejudice against northern women on stage.<br/>Don’t be mardy - see yah there, pet.<br/>Talk Propa is supported by The CULTIVATE Bursary, in Association with COMMON and the Newbury Corn Exchange.

The 4th Country Plain Heroines

Misunderstood, neglected and under-reported, Northern Ireland is just across the water but feels a million miles away.<br/>Set in contemporary Northern Ireland, The 4th Country looks at the ways in which global political decisions impact the lives of ordinary people. Most of the stories that inspired The 4th Country only earned a single article in the British press. As old wounds heal, and new ones open, we see the extraordinary changes facing Northern Ireland through the lives of ordinary people.

[The Cobbled Streets of Geneva] Ellandar Productions & 45 North

3 stars A man stands outside a mosque. The imam brings him a cup of tea. A friendship is born. [The Cobbled Streets of Geneva] follows the developing interactions between the reserved, uncertain Adham and the assertively accepting Raushan, as they travel through Switzerland - a trip that gradually reveals their true feelings through the deception they present to the world. Read the full review.

A queer British-Muslim romantic comedy. <br/>Adham is a silent and brooding middle-aged tragedy, standing outside a Mosque in North London. Waiting. It’s raining. Tea, an umbrella, and friendship arrive.<br/>Two years later Adham’s boss invites him on holiday to “set him up”. Panic-stricken and wanting to bat away her advances he fabricates a husband, but when the plan backfires he’s got to convince someone to act the part... Who best but his Imam and absolutely platonic friend Raushan? The rest is what you’d expect: a call to adventure in the Alps, a quarrel, and a sweet queer love story that ends in gardening gloves. <br/>Nemo Martin’s [The Cobbled Streets of Geneva] is a warm queer romantic comedy about how role-playing new lives might bring us closer to who we really are. <br/>Praise:<br/>“It is a gentling of story, a caretaking of truths that invites revelation, and the result is utterly beautiful.” - Jenifer Toksvig.

The Gypsy Flame Yagori Gypsy Dance Company

Discover the story of a thousand years’ journey.<br/>A fire burns bright within the souls of a hundred generations. What happens when this fire is always drawing you down the road? Where does this fire in your soul lead you?<br/>A history full of drama and tragedy, the Romani people have travelled for thousands of years. Fuelled by the fire of hope, they travelled across the world, learning and leaving elements of their music, dance, and culture wherever they went. <br/>A captivating story full of fiery dance and explosive music await you as Yagori leads you on a journey to unveil the rich culture of the Romani people throughout time. Will the spirit of fire call to you?

Lulu Popplewell (Work in Progress) Lulu Popplewell

This is a work in progress stand up show about control, manipulation and - somehow - threesomes. There will be games! There will be eels! There will be a hefty number of silly jokes! Lulu has is a Chortle Student Comedy award finalist, described by Marbles Magazine as ‘scorching, charismatic and refreshingly free’. Fancy having your tarot read by a trainee therapist? Then this is the show for you. Fancy winning it big in deal or no deal? Tough luck, there’s none of that here.

Harriet Kemsley (Work in Progress) United Agents

Harriet kemsley is a vegan allergic to raw fruit and vegetables and nuts. Watch her try and survive the show. (8 Out of 10 Cats, Roast Battle, Bobby & Harriet Get Married, Live at The Comedy Store). “You can feel the funny bubbling up inside her and then sort of escaping in a frequently messy, uncoordinated way... .And it is joyful” **** The Scotsman
‘Kemsley packs in high calibre jokes’ **** The Guardian

Ask Me Anything The Paper Birds

Ask Me Anything
Created & Presented by The Paper Birds
Co-Produced with Live Theatre
Music by Rosie Doonan<br/>A loud, live, love song, to not having it all figured out.<br/>We asked young people, living in today’s world of mobile phones and google, to write to us and ask us anything. Nothing was off limits. We received over 100 letters from young people across the UK. This show is our reply.<br/>Inspired by the magazine problem pages we read growing up in the 90s and 00s (anyone remember Smash Hits?!), in Ask Me Anything The Paper Birds become the agony aunts. The show explores what young people think, want and worry about today and what different generations can learn from each other.<br/>Ask Me Anything is a new, immersive theatrical experience, from multi-award winners The Paper Birds, whose previous shows include Mobile, Thirsty and In a Thousand Pieces.<br/>Set in our teenage 90s and 00s bedrooms, Ask Me Anything features cutting edge digital artistry, The Paper Birds' unique brand of mischief and mayhem, and original live music from celebrated singer-songwriter Rosie Doonan.<br/>This is a show for teenagers, parents, grandparents, and everyone in between, who, like us, are still figuring it all out. <br/>So, take off your shoes, pull up a cushion, and come on in.

I’m Not Here To Make Friends The Free Association

Sit back and enjoy a juicy new improvised Reality TV show, available for one night only, live at VAULT. Don't be shady and sashay away, stay loyal babes. Bring that sickening soggy bottom and give us four yeses because we are 100% your type on
paper, okurrrrr? Get ready to be #gagged #shook and tweeting #thatshot because we'll be trending before you know it.<br/>Brought to you by The Free Association and featuring a cast of some of the UK's top improv comedians, the performers will create a gripping, hilarious and utterly scandalous Reality TV show entirely inspired by your suggestions.<br/>Love reality TV? You'll love this. Hate reality TV? You'll still love it.<br/>This show is one of a series of hit improv shows presented by The Free Association in a two-week VAULT takeover. Other shows include Jacuzii, SORRY, The Badge: An Improvised Cop Show, The Nearly News Show, Starry Starry Eyes, RAD Party, Important Art, LGBTQFA and Minority Report. Book two for £15 or three for £20 as part of The Free Association Package Deal.

Tinted Scripped Up

Tinted is a revolutionary disabled response to the #metoo hashtag. Staged as accessibly as possible and written by disabled playwright Amy Bethan Evans (Libby's Eyes, BBC Access Room, Kudos Fellowship shortlist and producer of Access Platform) Tinted is the debut full-length monologue from Scripped Up, championing D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers.

The First Barry McStay

- "What do you think they’ll say?"
- "Whatever it is, it’ll all be wrong."
- "Maybe. We’re the most famous people alive right now."
- "Right now. Yes."<br/>A spacecraft approaches Mars. They are The First.
Back on Earth, two writers compose two speeches. One if the mission succeeds. And another...<br/>When things start to go wrong aboard just days away from the Red Planet, astronauts Rose and Simeon are faced with the prospect of being more alone than any two humans in history.
Meanwhile, experienced political hack Marcus and celebrated screenwriter Aisha must find the words to summarise a feat bigger than words, and a disaster that may never happen.<br/>From writer Barry McStay (Vespertilio - Show of the Week, VAULT 2019) and directed by x2 FRINGE FIRST Winner Emily Jenkins (Bobby And Amy - also won Show of the Week, VAULT 2019). THE FIRST is a new play about tragedy, heroism and imperfection.<br/>Praise for Barry McStay
Lyn Gardner, StageDoor - "This is such a pleasure"
The Irish Times - "Wistfully charming...effortlessly engaging"<br/>Praise for Emily Jenkins
The Stage - "She directs the show almost like a ballet, with lithe and tireless physicality from the two superb performers Will Howard and Kimberley Jarvis"
Fest Mag - "The raw simplicity of the staging of writer and director Emily Jenkins' play allows the breadth of feeling and imagery to breathe and come to life"

Alex Edelman: Just For Us Alex Edelman

Bostonian comedian. Jew. Sweetheart. <br/>Alex Edelman’s first show, Millennial – about very traumatic stock photos and young people - won an Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Newcomer, the first show by an American to do so since 1997. The follow-up, Everything Handed to You - about identity and the availability of plug sockets in airports - was even more acclaimed: selling out its entire Edinburgh run and garnering the second-best reviews of any comedy show at the Festival. It was also filmed in its entirety for a special called Live at the BBC, which is currently available on Netflix.<br/>Just For Us is what comes next. Nominated for the Barry award at Melbourne International Comedy Festival, earning the prestigious Herald Angel award as well as being nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Show, it’s about gorillas that can-do sign language and tribalism. Come.

Sticky Door Katie Arnstein

From the multi-award-winning team that bought you the "exquisite" (The List) Sexy Lamp and Bicycles and Fish... <br/>“The 2014 plan was a simple one, I would “Casanova” myself around our nation's capital looking for consenting heterosexual adult males. One no-frills lover-man for every month. I was the original calendar girl. Helen Mirren plays me in the film.” <br/>In 2014 Katie was very sexually active. She was also extremely depressed. Join her as she examines whether the two things are connected. <br/>A storytelling show with songs about sex, stigma and cystitis. <br/>Sticky Door is the third part in Katie Arnstein’s It’s a Girl! trilogy. <br/>Catch Katie's other shows at VAULT 2020 as she presents three shows together for the first time on 16th February. Three. Because that's how trilogies work.<br/><br/>Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Also supported by Pleasance Futures and Redbridge Drama Centre.

Salmon Eve and Sea Productions

Set in a small Scottish town, where a lack of prospects leaves the young people looking for more, Salmon follows Angus and his self-destruction in the aftermath of his dog's death. <br/>As Angus struggles between the weekend raves and weekday restlessness, we are swept along into a world where dogs run security businesses, flies talk, and nothing is quite what it seems.<br/>As Angus spirals to breaking point, Salmon explores the lack of purpose felt by so many young people, their inability to admit or express this sense of futility and the abuse of drugs to escape the emptiness. Devoid of prospects, Angus fixates on the salmon’s innate objective in life, as his family and friends attempt to understand what is going on inside his head. <br/>Blending spoken word, an original score and surrealism, Eve and Sea Production’s powerful show unsettles and disrupts; confronting its audience with an exposing commentary on male mental health, drug abuse and the disillusionment of youth in the 21st century.

Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands Papercut Theatre

"You think you're the only person that's ever felt like this? What makes you so special?<br/>Lou has a problem.
Lou is a problem.
She's moody. Impulsive. Unstable. A pain in the arse.
Her mental illness won't fit into an inspirational story of redemption. She doesn't eat enough kale. She doesn't do enough yoga.
Why can't she just be happy?<br/>When an act of desperation brings her into conflict with her family and friends, Lou starts to wonder where her mental illness ends and she begins. Played by an inclusive and eclectic ensemble of actors, Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands follows Lou as she tries to make sense of her condition and her place in the world.<br/>Melissa Dunne's inky black comedy explores mental health in a world that prefers easy answers to uncomfortable truths. Included in Lyn Gardner's 'Top Picks of VAULT Festival'.<br/>Produced by Papercut Theatre who brought the acclaimed Lola and Dangerous Lenses to Vault Festival 2019.

Sunil Patel (Work in Progress) Sunil Patel

Look, to cut a long story short, I hadn't got round to telling my mum I'm a comedian, and I was going to but then some mystery snitch told her I was on TV somewhere and I had to come clean to her, and honestly guys, she could not care less and just wanted to make sure I had enough pants and socks. So that's where we're at in November 2019. I absolutely maintain it's a completely normal thing to be in a career for 8 years and not inform your mother. Also who was this mystery snitch and does he deserve stitches? Vote now.

Rachel Fairburn Rachel Fairburn

Join stand up comedian and co-writer and co-host of worldwide smash hit podcast All Killa No Filla as she tries brand new material

Ken Cheng: To All the Racists I’ve Blocked Before Ken Cheng

Star of BBC Radio 4’s Chinese Comedian and co-host of E4’s The Hangover Games, Ken Cheng is back with a complete treatise on racism. Using racism he’s received from Twitter trolls as a jumping-off point, Ken explores racism in all its forms from the unique position of a British-born Chinese, ex-Cambridge mathematician dropout and professional poker player. From BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show, Comedy Central at the Comedy Store and BBC Three’s Top Tens. Dave Joke of the Fringe 2017 winner and one of The Guardian’s Best Edinburgh Shows 2018.

SPLINTERED Lagahoo Productions

Carnival is rebellion, through rebellion we find joy. Caribbean people have a tendency to celebrate through hard times, and here we are - celebrating and trying to unpack what it means to be queer in a homophobic culture. It’s a carnival dance party littered with sad truths and joyful lies<br/>Welcome to SPLINTERED, the queer carnival party! Sprinkled with sad truths and joyful lies and based upon interviews with queer women in Trinidad & Tobago, this is a show unlike any other to grace the Edinburgh Fringe. Carnival is a celebration despite and in spite of oppression. How does one deal with coming out in a homophobic culture? With a party, duh. Expect a form-breaking, joy-inducing cabaret with plenty wining and a f*cktonne of glitter – “come free up yuhself”!<br/>Lagahoo Productions are a New Diorama Theatre Emerging Company 2019/20, and a Soho Theatre Young Company. SPLINTERED is Lagahoo’s inaugural show, and hope it can make a small but vital step in providing more space for Caribbean artists on British stages.<br/>SPLINTERED is generously supported by Arts Council England.

The Nearly News Show The Free Association

Good evening and welcome to The Nearly News Show, live at 7:30pm.<br/>Tonight’s Headline News: It’s The Stories You Want To Hear.<br/>Join some of the UK’s top improv comedians as they present comprehensive coverage and hilarious in-depth analysis of the real stories behind today’s headlines, as selected by the studio audience.<br/>We’re giving you hard-hitting investigative journalism. Or maybe the exact opposite.
Either way, tonight’s news is live, improvised and way less bleak than the real thing.<br/>This show is one of a series of hit improv shows presented by The Free Association in a two-week VAULT takeover. Other shows include Jacuzii, SORRY, The Badge: An Improvised Cop Show, I’m Not Here To Make Friends, Starry Starry Eyes, RAD Party, Important Art, LGBTQFA and Minority Report. Book two for £15 or three for £20 as part of The Free Association Package Deal.

Rhubarb Ghetto inkjockey LTD

Rhubarb Ghetto is a raw, explosive story set in a graffiti-strewn underpass in London featuring the characters of Billy and Scarlet.<br/>Billy is a gang leader tying up loose ends before disappearing to escape the clutches of a mysterious character named Pavel. Scarlet is the mother of their 15-year-old child Alfie.<br/>Rhubarb Ghetto is an intimate portrayal of a relationship two decades in the making. It looks at choices and lost opportunities. It poses uncertain futures for the characters against the backdrop of life in London where rich and poor live side by side. It looks at the turf-war at the heart of the capital and the gentrification that has replaced council estates with hipsters, coffee culture, and urban allotments.<br/>Life in London can change dramatically in the length of a single underpass. Luxury flats on one side. Gangs and drugs on the other. <br/>Whichever side of the underpass we live on defines our choices and our future. But in the shadow of City Hall, we all live in the Rhubarb Ghetto.<br/>VAULT Festival 2020 will be the world premiere of Rhubarb Ghetto.

Bible John THESE GIRLS in association with The Pleasance

4 stars There is a woman. She’s always late, sat on her bed, clicking through article after article on serial killers; you probably know her, you might even be her.  She is one of four temps, each sitting quietly at their desk, all listening to the same podcast.  And they’re not a alone - a growing number of people (particularly women) are fascinated by serial killers, and a host of podcasts, TV shows and online articles recount and analyse cases solved and unsolved. Read the full review.

1969 at the Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow, three women are murdered by an Old Testament-quoting serial killer, later nicknamed Bible John. He has never been caught.<br/>In 2019, four temps discover they share a morbid obsession with true crime, and with one podcast in particular: a reinvestigation into the Bible John murders by American journalist Carrie LaRue. As their fascination takes hold, they immerse themselves into the world of 1960s Glasgow, in an attempt to solve the case once and for all.<br/>Bible John is partly a retelling of one of Scotland’s darkest unsolved crimes, but is more broadly an interrogation into the ethics of true crime as entertainment, and the reasons why women in particular are so hungry for stories that has the victimisation of other women at their heart. It’s a riotous, furious, joyful exploration into violence and gender, weaving film, movement, and text, from Charlie Hartill Recipients - THESE GIRLS.

Will Penswick: Works of Arts in Progress StraightUp Productions

After a very expensive and somewhat catastrophic ‘World Tour’, The Artist Formally Known as William Penswick, supposed creative icon Will Penswick, is back on home soil to present his 'finest' poetry, prose and performance in an attempt to get the critical and financial backing he now so desperately needs. Despite multiple sponsorship details, a wealthy family and previous, if insignificant, success, Penswick is struggling to be the artist he wants to be.<br/>A maverick, a renegade, a terrible flirt; A Will of all trades, a master of none...will he prove his greatness? Probably not if he, his technical operator or the audience have anything to do with it.<br/>Previous Praise:
"Hard not to love...brilliant" **** Radio Ha-Ha!
"Laugh out loud funny" **** BroadwayBaby
"You will be in for a comic treat" **** PlaysToSee
"Bloody special" **** MumbleComedy
"Gleefully silly" WeeReview<br/>For Will Penswick: Work In Progress (2019, VAULT)
"One of the absolute funniest things I've seen in my life...Netflix-special-worthy" ***** Stagedoor (audience review)

Silent Comedy: Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. with Live Score The Lucky Dog Picturehouse

Step in to our 1920s cinema as The Lucky Dog Picturehouse musicians present their irresistible mix of classic silent comedies and original live scores!<br/>King of Comedy Buster Keaton directs and stars in his Hollywood hit SHERLOCK JR.(1924) as a young, unlucky-in-love projectionist. When a robbery leaves his honour in tatters, he must turn detective - but will he solve the crime?<br/> Complete with death-defying stunts, jaw-dropping special effects and even a bit of romance, it's not hard to see why this film consistently finds itself on TIME magazine's 'Best 100 movies of all time'.<br/>With supporting shorts<br/>Nicholas Barber, BBC Culture “Silent Film has no finer custodians”

Cara Vita: A Clown Concerto Felicity Hesed

“Cara Vita: A Clown Concerto” is a solo physical theatre piece which explores the joys, sorrows, and hilarity of romance, relationships, and child-rearing. Created and performed by Felicity Hesed, this comedy offers a uniquely female perspective on the struggles of maintaining one’s identity in the midst of family life. “Cara Vita: A Clown Concerto” incorporates live music, circus, and magic to spin a whimsical tale of love and loss. Felicity Hesed is joined on stage by violinist Clare Armenante who creates an invigorating and masterful soundscape. Felicity Hesed developed this innovative and interactive show in collaboration with award-winning Director Jeff Raz. "Cara Vita" is both a deeply personal and universally human story. <br/> "...a hilarious, heartbreaking and sexy piece of clown theater." (Cirque du Soleil star, Jeff Raz)<br/>“Felicity Hesed is an absolute delight... thoughtfully, playfully, lovingly, joyfully taking us along for the ride.” -- Steve Smith (Emmy Award winner, Clown Hall of Fame inductee, and Big Apple Circus Director)<br/>“Felicity Hesed’s 'Cara Vita' is a cleverly crafted solo piece incorporating music, clowning and movement into one thoroughly entertaining show. Filled with fun surprises, Hesed’s sharp comic timing will keep you laughing and wondering what will come next. But underneath the silliness is an achingly sincere exploration of marriage and motherhood as seen through the eyes of an artist, asking a question that many can relate to: what happens to your art when life gets in the way?” -- Genie Cartier (Founder of Bow & Arrow Circus Theatre Collective)

Red Richardson: WIP Red Richardson

In 2017 Red Richardson left a building in Central London to see thousands of people running down the street screaming, for the next 35 minutes the whole of the country (Thanks to Pop star Ollie Murs tweeting from a basement in H and M) believed it was a terrorist attack. It wasn't. This is an hour of stand up about the human condition in crisis.

Jacob Hawley (Work in Progress) Jacob Hawley

Stevenage soft-lad Jacob Hawley presents his WIP. New jokes, new ideas, same twat shouting them. "A must-see staple with his sensitive and joke-busy hours" - The List. "punchy wit and quite brilliant skill for concise social commentary" -

Grant Busé: SentiMENTAL Grant Busé

Were the good old days really that good? Was America ever great? Do we really need another Disney remake? Nostalgia ain't what it used to be. In a work in progress show that celebrates and mocks the never-ending nostalgia porn seducing our modern senses, Grant Busé delivers a hilarious music-fuelled deconstruction of our selective memories.
The Scotsman ***** "Must See"
Edinburgh Evening News ***** "Hilarious"
Broadway Baby **** "Rockstar"
The Wee Review **** "Comedy Gold"
? Winner Best Cabaret - Adelaide Fringe Weekly Awards 2018 ?
? Best Music & Improv Nominated - Leicester Comedy Festival 2019 ?
? Best Cabaret & Comedy Nominated - Fringe World 2018, 2015 ?

WORK Paul Cree

'Work' is a humorous and introspective journey through one mans low-wage employment history. A mix of storytelling, rap, live-looping and beatbox, the audience are invited inside the mind of a person affected by his experiences and his drive to find out how he could be of use to this world.  What would really happen if we all felt useful?