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Vault Festival in London: what to see

Hunt out some of London's most exciting new theatre and comedy shows at this subterranean festival

Vault Festival is back in London for 2017 with a brilliantly eclectic programme of performance, lasting from January until March. Below is our guide to the fest's best theatre, comedy, and events.

For more theatre recommendations, read our critics' choice for the best of London theatre. And look out for a special all-night opening party on Friday January 27 – Time Out Presents: I'm Coming Out.

What is Vault Festival?
A six-week event showcasing some of London's most exciting new theatre, cabaret and comedy.

When is Vault Festival?
The festival runs from January 25 until March 5. 

Where is Vault Festival?
Surprisingly enough, in a vault. Well, kind of... The action takes place in The Vaults Theatre, a sprawling, crypt-like space underneath Waterloo Station, with a couple of extra shows in nearby Network Theatre and Morley College.

How much does Vault Festival cost?
Prices for individual events vary, but most shows cost £9-£12.

Recommended theatre at Vault Festival

Fran & Leni

Two girls meet in a North London comp and fall for all things punk. 'Fran & Leni' is a story of friendship, music and fishnets by Sadie Hasler, writer of 'Pramkicker'.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday January 25 2017 - Sunday January 29 2017

A Hundred Different Words For Love

This follow-up to sleeper fringe hit 'Team Viking', which drew comparisons to Daniel Kitson's work, is similarly a quirky storytelling show about love. Written and performed by James Rowland.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday February 1 2017 - Sunday February 5 2017

Skin Of The Teeth

A boy can't feel fear, so accepts an offer from a stranger that takes him to perilous new places. Anna Beecher's play is a reworking of Grimm's story, 'The Boy Who Went Forth To Learn To Shudder', using physical theatre and surreal darkness.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday February 1 2017 - Sunday February 5 2017

We Are Bronte

Tuberculosis, poverty, alcoholism, Yorkshire drizzle: being a Bronte wasn't much fun. But Publick Transport Theatre are setting that right with this deliciously silly show. Two performers get under the skin of the Bronte sisters in a gothic satire of their literary hits.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday February 1 2017 - Sunday February 5 2017

This Must Be The Place

Playwrights Brad Birch and Kenneth Emson collaborate for the first time in 'This Must Be The Place', two ballads about the pressures of city life for Poleroid Theatre. Justin Audibert directs this look at three people trying to thrive in the thin air of the Big Smoke.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday February 8 2017 - Sunday February 12 2017

Astronauts Of Hartlepool

Sci-fi doesn't have to mean mega-budget movies. Tim Foley's fringe comedy is a dystopian look at divided post-Brexit Britain. When astronauts land in Hartlepool, the Leave-voting town must make another big decision.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday February 8 2017 - Sunday February 12 2017

Greywing House

Mary Beth Morossa welcomes you to a rather special evening at this eerie storytelling show, set in a haunted mansion. Cabaret, poetry and evocative music combine to create a slightly chilly, slightly silly night of gothic fun. 

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday February 1 2017 - Wednesday February 15 2017

On The Crest Of A Wave

Inspired by a line scrawled under an old photograph, 'On the Crest of a Wave' is a look at the way we can feel loss for things we hardly remember. Playwright Camilla Whitehill has teamed up with musical comedian Luke Courtier and to create this comic funeral, based on her own family history.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday February 15 2017 - Sunday February 19 2017

Princess Suffragette

Subika Anwar-Khan's play is based on a pretty remarkable true story: Princess Sophia Duleep Singh's journey from pampered daughter of an exiled Maharajah, to becoming the first ever British-Asian suffragette. This feminist drama is a story of colonialism and defiance, from the author of fringe hit 'Stateless'.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday February 22 2017 - Sunday February 26 2017

Testament

Live gospel and blues fill this offbeat slice of Americana, which looks at the lives of four overlooked Biblical characters. It's the handiwork of rising star Tristan Bernays, who's also got a new play about Iceni queen Boudica playing at Shakespeare's Globe this summer.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday February 22 2017 - Sunday February 26 2017

Experimental theatre at Vault Festival

Balancing Acts

'Balancing Acts' is an off-kilter look at depression and recovery, performed by Kaleido Film Collective and Feral Foxy Ladies. They'll tell six stories of living with mental illness, in a fierce, multimedia look at the ways we find to feel better.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday January 25 2017 - Sunday January 29 2017

We Are Ian

Daffy dance and clowning trio In Bed With My Brother's show 'We are Ian' is a hopping mad look at rave culture. Their interactive show takes you on a trip to the heart of the early 1990s Manchester drug and party scene.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday February 1 2017 - Sunday February 5 2017

Hip

Jolie Booth's interactive solo show invites the audience to join her in a Brighton living room. Settle down on the sofa, sip some tequila, and poke through found objects to discover the lives of two very different women.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday February 1 2017 - Sunday February 5 2017

Mars Actually

Crash a romcom into a sci-fi show and what do you get? Superbolt Theatre are the team behind Vault Fest hit 'Dinosaur Park'. This new work looks like just as much fun - a ridiculous physical theatre look at life in outer space.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday February 15 2017 - Sunday February 19 2017

Androdes

Discover a world of alien landscapes, robots, and electronic music in 'Androdes', the debut show from Sartory. And if (judging by the photos) that world happens to look a bit like the inside of Cyberdog, we're still 100% up for exploring it. This immersive music performance follows an android called ANI who's become conscious after a manufacturing mistake, and is roaming the earth in search of meaning.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday February 15 2017 - Sunday February 19 2017

Puppy

Naomi Westerman's play ‘Puppy’ is a sex-positive feminist story about two women who find sweet sweet love…while going at it in a suburban carpark. We’re not sure that’s what Donny Osmond meant by Puppy Love. 

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Morley College , Lambeth Thursday February 23 2017 - Thursday March 2 2017

Comedy at Vault Festival

Britney

Inspired by a certain popstar's shaved head, this two-hander is an irreverent look at coping with a brain tumour. Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson flip from sketches to cabaret to Harry Potter-related silliness in a true story of two best friends who won't take cancer seriously.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday January 25 2017 - Sunday January 29 2017

Play Time

Two nine-year old boys get involved in a rather nasty incident in this comic two-hander by Of Mice Theatre. They're going back to school for a show about the terrifying, hilarious power of kids' imaginations

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday January 25 2017 - Sunday January 29 2017

The Jurassic Parks

Superbolt Theatre's laugh-out-loud spin on Spielberg's classic is a physical comedy show set in the unlikely Lyme Regis Community Centre. A family's DVD of 'Jurassic Park' is broken, so they'll just have to make it up as they go along...

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday February 8 2017 - Sunday February 12 2017

The Starship Osiris

Armed with a cast that despises him and a slim budget, actor, writer, and director George Vere endeavours to bring you his debut sci-fi masterpiece. An intergalactic comedy farce from Willis & Vere.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday February 1 2017 - Sunday February 5 2017

The Monks Of Umami: Radiodyssey

Deep in a secret vault, Thom Jordan, Elliot Hall and Jordan Dunbar recreate the lost sounds of BBC Stoke, 1952. This radio-inspired act is a chaotic tribute to comedy history.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Thursday February 23 2017

You Having Olaf?

A miserable man becomes a kids' entertainer in an attempt to cheer himself up in Joseph Cullen's comedy. Expect costumes, balloon swords, and social awkwardness.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Wednesday February 22 2017 - Sunday February 26 2017

Helen Duff: When The Going Gets Duff

Helen Duff's 'Vanity Bites Back' was a clowning cookery show that got rave reviews from Edinburgh's food-spattered comedy critics. 'When the Going Gets Duff' is a riotously silly solo show about life's sillier side - and going by the owl-filled poster its should be a hoot.

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Network Theatre , Waterloo Wednesday February 22 2017 - Sunday February 26 2017

Nightlife at Vault Festival

Time Out presents: I'm Coming Out

For the opening night of this year's Vault Festival, Time Out are making it their mission to make. you. come. out. We'll be throwing an all-night disco party to kick things off. It's a chance to banish those post-Christmas hibernation blues once and for all, and come out to the sound of beautiful, joyful disco-friendly dance music. Across multiple rooms at this ace cavernous venue, there'll be a Midnight Runway, giving you the opportunity to come out in style, glitter showers, a photo booth, a salon steered by an expert face vajazzler, and – of course – a main room dancefloor that will rock all night to sweet disco music old and new, from Time Out's Music Editor Oliver Keens. Join us for the winter of our disco intent.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Friday January 27 2017 - Saturday January 28 2017

The Great Gatsby Party

Transport yourself to a glittering party from the past with help from The Nudge, The Guild of Misrule and The Immersive Ensemble tonight. The '20s is where it's at, Jay Gatsby's your host and foot-stomping jazz, hard liquor and swing dancing's on the menu until the early hours. Book in advance via the event page.

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The Vaults , Waterloo Friday February 3 2017 - Sunday February 5 2017

More essential London theatre

17 London theatre shows not to miss in 2017

Want to know what theatre tickets to buy in 2017? Shortcut it straight to the very best shows coming to London with our selection of musicals, immersive plays and off-West-End shows that you’d be mad to miss in 2017.  

Read more
By: Andrzej Lukowski

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