Vault Festival: Head of State


The Vault Festival, Studio at The Vaults, Leake Street Tunnels, Waterloo.


4-6 Feb at 6pm. Running time 1 hr.


Written and directed by Rob Thorman, performed by Akshay Shah and Lawrence Russell.

Akshay Shah in Head of State. Image by Ella Jones.
Akshay Shah in Head of State. Image by Ella Jones.


Set in the fictional country of Nechora, newly elected Mo becomes an accidental over-the-phone therapist to the world’s most powerful leaders.


Head of State is a political satire with lots of laughs, quick changes, national stereotypes and dancing to Ariana Grande.

Utilising old rotary dial phones for the calls, yet a surprising piece of technical wizardry at the end, we follow Mo as he tries to get on the right side of the world leaders who call to congratulate him. He wants them to join in his crusade for climate change, but his country is so insignificant it doesn’t appear on the map.

I felt Shah made Mo sweet, earnest and funny, but I had trouble seeing him as a serious environmentalist and sage adviser to the great; however his Grande obsession leads to some hot dance moves.

Akshay Shah in Head of State. Image by Ella Jones.
Akshay Shah in Head of State. Image by Ella Jones.

In Russell’s depiction of nine different world leaders with just a change of hat and jacket, there’s a lot of accomplished character work and physical comedy but inevitably, everyone presents as white and male. It’s unclear when Head of State is set but with reference to current world concerns and the dominance of technology it does imply the 21st century.

I felt Head of State became repetitive at times with the constant calls, but it is certainly cleverly done and very entertaining. It’s sold out for its final performance tonight but I am interested to see how it might develop in the future.

Judgement – Wow, Meow, or Furred Brow?

A meow for Head of State. It has some good ideas and potential but needs a few more tweaks and trims.

LouReviews received a complimentary ticket for Head of State.