New homes found for productions despite cancellation of The Vault Festival

When the news emerged that the 10th anniversary return of the Vault Festival at Waterloo was being cancelled due to concerns over Covid, the impact on the grassroots level of the theatre landscape was horrendous.

After nearly two years of almost constant inactivity, the return to live performance for more than 600 shows was once again denied and hundreds of artists or companies, along with their producers, directors and creative teams, once again saw their work put on hold.

James Haddrell,  executive director of Greenwich Theatre

However, theatres across London and beyond rapidly opened their doors and filled gaps in their programmes with the newly homeless productions, so now, in what is surely the first of its kind, we are in the throes of an entirely unofficial and utterly brilliant Vault Transfer festival.

At Greenwich, we have already hosted a cancelled date for Notflix, the improvised musical theatre company, and we have more shows lined up.

On February 28, in the first in a series of bi-monthly performances, Impromptu Shakespeare promises a riotous new Shakespeare play with story and verse improvised in the moment.

Then, March 10, BBC New Comedy Awards nominee Harry Wright presents Smalltown Boy, a stand-up exploration of their autism and their sexuality, and how these intersect with their class identity, growing up in a deprived area of Yorkshire.

Also confirmed, playing from April 26-28, and complete with a heartbeat of Northern Soul music, Shake The City is a new play about the clothworkers strike in Leeds in 1970, following a group of women who have set up their own makeshift Women’s Liberation Movement meetings in the fight for equal pay.

Harry Wright in Smalltown Boy

It is impossible to pick highlights from all of the shows that have been rehomed, and in many ways that’s the appeal of a festival like Vault – you gamble when you choose what to see and you can stumble across something unforgettable.

However, my list of gambles will certainly include Agatha, playing at the Pleasance from March 1-5, a story of three generations of women battling lost dreams, coping mechanisms and each other, told through a combination of drama, spoken word performance and music.

Also at Pleasance, running from March 8-12, festival favourites Spies Like Us present Speed Dial, an action-packed, thrilling physical caper about connection, forgiveness and cryptic crosswords.

At the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham, Voloz Collective (winners of the 2020 Les Enfants/Greenwich award) finally get a chance to show their Hitchcock/western/comedy The Man Who Thought He Knew Too Much from March 2-4.

Meanwhile, at the Other Palace at the end of this month, Is He Musical is described as a joyous musical comedy inspired by the true stories of the queer friends who loved, lived, and partied across 1930s London.

The festival that we all know and love may not be going ahead, but thanks to the support of programmers and venues.

A large number of shows have found new homes and will find new audiences – and I can’t wait to stumble across this year’s unexpected gem.

For a list of all of the shows that have found new homes, visit


Main Picture: Agatha




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