You’re in a cult; call your dad

After bidding goodbye to my volunteer theatre-pie tasters, it was time for me to head off to my next show.

Oh, you didn't think I was done for the day, did you? This is a four-show weekend, my friend. Five if you include Friday night's convoluted trip to the Barbican.

I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

Not really. 

My next show was only down the road, in the basement of the Travelling Through bookshop.  

This is my first bookshop of the marathon. 

I've done the former library that is The Bush, and the library-library that is the London Library. But no bookshop. 

Unless we count the Samuel French bookshop being based in the Royal Court, but I think we can all agree that we won't be doing that. 

So, there we were. On Lower Marsh Street, about to find out if being able to purchase the books on the shelves makes a difference to the theatre they surround. 

Travelling Through is a very small shop. Or at least, that's how it feels when you are crammed shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the audience, as you wait for one of the Vault Festival ushers to check you in on their, by now familiar looking, tablets. 


After Helen's comment at the Vaulty Towers, suggesting that waiting around while holding a pie was actually part of the show, I did wonder whether this close proximity to my fellow audience members was an attempt to show us what life was like for a book, tucked up on the shelf next to its brethren. But the house was soon opened and we filed downstairs, and I forgot all about it.

The little basement cafe is a cosy space. Long tables take up most of the room, but they'd managed to fit in enough tall pouffes for us all to sit on.  Each one was topped with a freesheet, which was a nice touch. You don't see many freesheets at the Vault Festival, which is such a shame. And not just because I'm a paper freak. Even with the wonders of the internet housed in our hands, it's surprisingly tricky to find out the names of people involved in shows without one. Everyone talks big game about programmes having had their day, but I think we've still got a while to go before I'm made redundant. I mean, they're made redundant. They. Not me. I can do more than just producing programmes. I swear.

Please don't fire me.


From the other room, a woman came in bearing a steaming mug.

I got a waft of chocolate as they passed me.  

"Mm, that's good," was the drink receiver's verdict.  "Very chocolatey."

Her companions nodded politely, clearly not interested, but I wanted to know more. How chocolatey exactly?

Without having to even ask, she offered up the answer. "Its 82% apparently. 82? Yes, 82. I'm sure that's what she said. 82%." 

Well, I know where I'm going for a hot chocolate next time I'm trapped between shows in Waterloo. 

Across the room, a woman cradled a mug of tea. Somehow she'd managed to score an entire table to herself. 

It was Catherine Millsom. Our performer. 

We all pretended not to notice. 

"What's your view like," asked a glamorous looking woman as she took the pouffe next to me.

I glanced over at Ms Millsom to assess the situation. I could see her. Just about. If I tilted my head and leant back.

"Limited," I admitted.


The glamorous lady considered this. "I think I'll sit on my leg, " she said, tucking up one leg under her. 

I was impressed by her balance. "I'm impressed by your balance," I said. This was a woman who clearly had a few yoga classes under her belt. 

"I'm not sure I'll be able to get up at the end," she laughed.

"At least it's only short." 

That's one great thing about the Vault Festival. Very few shows dare to trouble you for more than an hour. 


But when Catherine Millsom stood up and started talking, I instantly knew an hour wouldn't be enough. What an utterly compelling storyteller she is. I could have listened to her breathlessly talking about life in the postal sorting office all day. I wanted to talk envelopes with her. I don't have nearly enough people to talk about envelopes with. As she ran up the stairs, and scampered back down again to receive our applause, I had to remind myself that she's an actor, and doesn't actually work for the Royal Mail, and probably isn't interested in talking about envelopes with me.

Back on Lower Marsh Street I debated where I should go next. My last show of the day, Pufferfish, wasn't until twenty past nine. Over an hour off.

I needed somewhere warm. And well lit. With chairs. Preferably a table. Food. Oh, and wifi.

I went to Pret.

While there I managed to finish the blog post for my theatre excursion to the Barbican from the previous night, but I was flagging. 

I started a mini-mantra:

One more show and then I can go home. One more show and then I can go home. 

Unfortunately, this seemed to have the exact opposite effect of the one I was going for. If anything, it made me want to rest my head on the table and have a snooze. That wouldn't do. One can't snooze in Pret.

I needed something more mentally taxing. Like multiplication tables. Problem is, I never learnt them. So instead I tried the alphabet, which I never quite hot the hang of. I tend to get confused around the R S T section.

Still, it did the trick. And at 9pm I walked back to the Vaults. The Vaults proper, this time. We've been there before. And will go there again, so let's not dwell too long on it . 

I was going to the alarmingly named Cage. One of the venues off the main corridor.

You know how it goes. Queue up in Leake Street, admire the graffiti artists at work while you wait to have your bag searched, congratulate yourself for managing to sneak your water bottle inside and take a moment to pay your respects at the big bin full of those drinks containers that didn't make it past the door. Once inside, find your venue, join the appropriate queue, give your name to the tablet-wielding usher when they ask for it, and then wait for the doors to open.

The Cage is much the same as the other Vault venues. Housed in a stone railway arch, surrounded by blackout curtains, and with banks of raked seating.  

"Do you mind sitting on the far side?" asked the usher as I went it. Nope, I did not mind. I went over to the far side. 


The set was a bit different for a Vault Fest show, in that it actually had one. 

A great big marble slab that acted as kitchen counter and, with the aid of projections, a very large aquarium. While matching marble mannequins hung behind, like animals waiting to be butchered.

We were in serious serial-killer chic mode here. Which was useful as the show was about Jeffrey Dahmer.

Now, I'm not a murder newbie, in an I-live-in-constant-fear-of-being-gutted-by-a-bread-knife kinda way. One could say, I am a murderino. But having people in the same room as you, mere feet away, talking about removing appendages and pulling out capillaries, well... it made me feel just a teensy bit queasy.

I'm going to have nightmares for weeks.

Let's hope for a happier show tomorrow.

Stay sexy and don't get murdered.