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Off West End

Vault Festival 2023 – what to expect, show recommendations

It’s that time of the year again! It may be raining, and the wind may be blowing in your face, but starting January 24th, there is going to be a great option to hide from the elements while immersing yourself in all kinds of art and fun – for a good eight weeks. I’m (of course, you’ve seen the post’s title, ugh) talking about the upcoming Vault Festival in London. It’s worth checking out if you want to turn your winter days into slightly more exciting ones.

If any of these words make you feel good and warm inside, there’s a chance you might enjoy this event:

  • theatre
  • comedy
  • live entertainment
  • stand-up comedy
  • immersive experiences
  • emerging artists

Sounds good? Ok, let’s find out what this year’s Vault Festival has in store for its guests (I’m also discovering all this myself as I research online to write this post – I may update the information as the festival progresses).

Ticket Prices at Vault Festival

Ok, let’s start with this point because it’s potentially crucial for many people. With the current crazy inflation and high cost of living, is this even an affordable option to buy tickets to shows and performances at Vault Fest?

I have to say, considering how crazy expensive London tickets can get, this festival was a positive surprise for me. Tickets start at just a couple of pounds per performance. You can, for example, see stand-up comedy for £6 or this theatre tearjerker starting at £11.50 (price for Students, NHS workers, Low income or Unemployed). Tickets are priced reasonably, with a “pay more if you can” option if you can afford it and want to support the artists. There are also discounts for groups, or you can grab a great deal on a Festival Pass if you commit to seeing a couple of shows.

Vault Festival Pass gets you a deal for £49 and includes:

  • 4 free tickets
  • 4 free drinks
  • 10% off tickets all festival long
  • Personalised Festival Pass & lanyard

If you are more into late-night events, you can grab a Party Pass for £25, which gets you:

  • 4 free drinks
  • 2 free shots
  • Free cloakroom for the night

Up to you to decide if these are worth it, of course. It all depends on the kind of show or experience you pick because, as we all know, art is extremely subjective.

Location of Vault Festival

A great aspect of Vault Festival is the intimate and immersive setting of the tunnels beneath Waterloo station. The event makes use of the unique space to create an atmosphere that is both eerie and exciting, drawing audiences deeper into the performances.

The tunnel network and spaces can be confusing to navigate, but you can find a map of venues here. Some spaces have step-free access (not all of them).

And how to get there? Take a train or tube to Waterloo station; the venue is just a few minutes’ walk away.

What’s worth seeing at Vault Festival 2023?

Now that’s a challenge! I’ve been checking out the festival’s “What’s On” page for a couple of weeks, and deciding what to see is almost impossible. There are hundreds of events (519 last time I checked!), and with options for theatre plays, cabaret, drag and burlesque shows, live music, parties and gigs, I got so overwhelmed I had to close the window in my browser that and take a couple of breaths. So many options and so little time!

Here are some positions that have caught my eye so far (I will focus on theatre/musicals here):

Project Atom Boi

Why do I like it? It’s such a mix of themes that I would never put together, and it’s definitely very high on my “most original concept” list. 

A show about Doomerism, a Chinese nuclear city and post-Soviet nostalgia that finds its way to tell a dark, apocalyptic story with interactive theatre and children’s games. 

Poster credit: Ensemble Not Found

In Clay

Why do I like it? A musical mixing jazz and contemporary songs, based in Paris? Sign me up.

Based on a true story, IN CLAY is a new one-woman musical from a small kitchen in the suburbs of Paris in the late 1930s. IN CLAY combines jazz manouche with contemporary musical theatre in a story of near misses, unfulfilled potential, and the joy of creating art.

Poster credit: Design & Canvas Co.


Why do I like it? Because it seems to be talking about a painful, important issue (self-harm) in a warm, eye-opening style. Plus, there’s confetti!

SCRATCHES is a funny and honest story of the events that shape us. It’s about self-harm, recovery and reaching out to friends. It’s about talking through the hard stuff, but with a song and dance, a microphone and confetti. So much confetti.

Poster credit: Plain Heroines

Borders ألسياج הגדר

Why do I like it? A middle-eastern, international queer love story that starts at Grindr. You had me at “A”.

Inspired by a real encounter between the Israeli writer and a Lebanese man on Grindr, Borders is a story about two people never meant to meet who try to form an intimate relationship against all odds. It addresses the many complexities of the Middle East reality in which the geopolitical circumstances we are born into dictate the people we can connect with.

Poster credit: Shachar Tzin


Why do I like it? A bloody thriller with the main character named Master Sausage? Sign me up.

‘Sweeney Todd’ meets ‘The Trap Door’ in this blood-thirsty absurdist thriller about challenging tradition, surviving in a cut-throat world and doing what has to be done…

Poster credit: Expial Atrocious

Villain, Interrupted

Why do I like it? A mix of supervillains, comedy and shadow puppetry sounds absolutely wonderful!

For the last six months, Gina’s worked as a therapist in a prison for supervillains, determined to turn every last one into a hero. This audacious fusion of comic-book energy, theatre, and shadow puppets is her story.

Poster credit: KC Lylark


Why do I like it? I saw the show a couple of months ago and really enjoyed the immersive aspect and how the audience impacts how the show ends.

Counter is a new, exciting play with interactive elements where the audience is invited to participate in the dialogue and decision-making of the characters. The characters will ask themselves the questions they are too afraid to ask their partner – prompting the audience for answers.

Poster credit: Maggie N. Razavi


Why do I like it? I know nothing about the subject of the play, yet its personal storytelling and real-life angle have a chance to have a huge impact.

MOLKA is a debut production from the duo Taeyun Kim and Maja Laskowska. The multidisciplinary performance, created in collaboration with movement director Miia Mäkilä, is a powerful commentary on the rise of spycam crimes in South Korea and globally. Crimes which predominantly target women.

Poster credit: Taeyun Kim and Maja Laskowska

Zuzanna Chmielewska

Digital Marketer by profession, published travel book author, avid theatre goer and an amateur Malaysia tour guide in my free time. Find me in one of London's theatres, travelling in Asia or cooking and photographing new recipes in my kitchen. I would try anything once (at least!). My theatre blog:



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