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Kafka-ish: Kafka @Finborough

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In offering proof that Kafka is everything to everyone - writer-performer Jack Klaff plays various roles, including the man himself in what is a part tour, part immersion and part legend of Franz Kafka. He is a writer who achieved fame after his life was cut short due to succumbing to tuberculosis at the age of forty. He is probably better known for his reputation and the Kafkaesque style attributed to his writing than his life. But after this piece, you’re left curious to learn more about the man and his works. And that has to be the best theatrical tribute you could give a writer, even for a writer who stipulated that his works be destroyed upon his death. It’s currently playing at the Finborough Theatre . Franz Kafka was born in Prague in 1883. In 1901, he was admitted to a university and began studying law. While studying, he met Max Brod, who would become his best friend and eventual literary executor. Brod would posthumously publish many of his works and writings. Kafka’s life co

Diplomatic banter: The Ballerina @khaoseurope

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One person's waterboarding is another person's banter in The Ballerina. It has a short but somewhat delayed run as part of the Vault Festival under the railway arches at Waterloo. It was due to appear in 2020, but the pandemic got in the way. Since then the world post George Floyd, post dumping of a slave trader statue in Bristol Harbour seems to have diminished the novelty of the piece. But you never quite know if it's all a bit of a mind game or some friendly banter. The Vaults is a dystopian theatre setting at the best of times. Damp, cold and with the constant rumbling of trains overhead. When you throw in a piece that includes mind games and the odd bit of torture, it certainly is a confronting piece of theatre. Although perhaps not for the intended reasons. While there are various trigger warnings about the content, perhaps the audience could have also done with a bit of reassurance that no actors were harmed in making the piece too.  Told over a series of short scen

Dealing with it: Tarot @Feathers_circus @VaultFestival

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The circus is dealt another twist with live tarot readings in Tarot. It concludes its run at The Vaults tonight, but the concept is compelling enough that I suspect it won’t be the last time we’ll see this show from The Feathers of Daedalus in London. With a live band and energetic and up-close performances, it’s fascinating even if you’re not into the hocus pocus of reading someone’s fortune from a deck of cards. It’s held together by gender-fluid compère Ruby Wednesday. With deadpan detachment, we’re given an explanation about tarot readings. Members of the audience are also given a chance to have their cards read while the performers move about behind them. It’s educational for those who have no idea about the practice of tarot card readings. But it’s also a little bit unnerving. In the tight confines of the Forge space in the Vault, you could have a circus performer land on your lap. And there’s something slightly perverse yet curiously engaging about watching a total strange

Jesus, It’s Christmas: An Act of God @thevaultsuk

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God is back, and she wants to correct the record in 90 minutes on a stage under Waterloo Station. If that seems like a fair enough premise for you, then An Act of God is currently playing through to the new year at The Vaults . It’s such a mild satirical piece that you’ll be smirking out loud rather than laughing out loud. However, as an alternative Christmas experience with a terrific bar and an enthusiastic cast, it’s mostly harmless. God has come to London to correct the record on a range of misinterpretations of her Ten Commandments. The Palladium was unavailable, but the damp space of The Vaults was free. This time around the tablets are different (an IPad of course) and so are the messages about leaving God out of the war, travelling or sex. New material has been added to keep it topical. But the comic timing seems off and attempts to introduce theological debate into the proceedings fall flat. This makes the reissuing of the 10 commandments feel a bit of a chore. Or lik

Hello young lovers: Games for Lovers @TheVaultsUK

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Love in the age of #metoo, career goals, money worries and online dating can be a bit random and to chance. It's all part of life in London. That and the need for a flat close to the tube. It's all explored in Games for Lovers, a new piece by Ryan Craig that's currently playing at The Vaults . There's Martha (Evanna Lynch) who is secretly in love with her best friend Logan (Calum Callaghan). But Logan's got a girlfriend, Jenny (Tessie  Orange-Turner), although he has trouble with intimacy. When Darren (Billy Postlethwaite), an old college mate of Logan's, has a room to rent, Matha takes it since it has excellent tube links. Even if Darren's a bit odd. Through a series of flashbacks and addresses to the audience, we get a sense of who they are. But things really get interesting when Darren decides to give Martha lessons in the art of seduction. Lynch and Postlethwaite together are hilarious with their unexpected outbursts and comic timing. And Orange-

50 ways to leave: Ok Bye @VAULTFestival #okbye

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The phrase ok bye is so versatile. It can be used for a variety of endings. Some trivial some consequential. It could be full of meaning or absolutely meaningless. And this is the premise of RedBellyBlack’s intriguing show Ok Bye that concludes this weekend at The Vault festival. Based on an idea by co-creators Kate Goodfellow and Vicki Baron, they explore what it means to say goodbye in two parts. Through movement, comedy and lip-syncing dialogue they juxtapose the ways and means of saying goodbye. The first part is three estranged siblings reconnecting during the decline and death of a parent. Through movement and music they explore the transition from being a carefree child to a responsible adult. The second part is a collection of in verbatim stories about good byes to a range of things such as pets, freedom or crackpot religions. The performers mouth to perfection the most bizarre stories about saying goodbye. losing weight or leaving a fundamentalist Christian group are part

Easy Extensions and free love: Hair #jointhetribe @thevaultsuk

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Last week marked the fiftieth anniversary of Hair . It's the original rock / concept musical about hippies, the anti-war movement and Western hypocrisy. And with this slick and seductive production, you would have to be a member of the alt-right to not want to join the tribe and get up and dance. The cast, the music, the production and the performances make this not just a must see show, but one that deserves repeat viewings. You get a sense of the freshness and fun that must have amazed and shocked audiences fifty years ago. The underground space of The Vaults at Waterloo have been transformed into an immersive enclave for the alternative. There's a strong ensemble cast with seductive vocals (and bodies). There's also a terrific sound from the band under the music direction of Gareth Bretherton.

The girl with the animal tattoo: Vixen @thevaultsuk

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There's something about the girl with vixen tattoo in Vixen. If you're standing in the bar at the Vaults at the beginning she is likely to push you out of the way singing and asking for spare change. It's a confronting introduction to this part promenade performance of Silent Opera's Vixen. It re-imagines Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen to the streets of London. Here Vixen is homeless, taken in by a different kind of predator only to escape. Rosie Lomas in the role of the Vixen holds your attention with her performance of a determined and resourceful woman of the street. Along the way she escapes a foster carer, kicks out another homeless man from his shelter and falls in love.