Vault preview: Villain, Interrupted

Queer, female-led production company Dolls in Amber bring their show Villain, Interrupted to the Vault Festival in its final week.

Writer KT Roberts told us a bit more about this groundbreaking and powerful comedy play.

Where: Studio at the Vaults.

When: 18-19 Mar (4.10pm & 8.40pm both days).

Ticket link:

Promotional photo for Villain, Interrupted

What is the best thing about being part of Vault?

Honestly the best thing has been the Artist’s Passes – which allow us to see other people’s shows – we’ve managed to catch so much amazing theatre!

That’s really what Vault has been all about for us; that sense of community and coming together with other fringe theatre creators.

It’s such an important, vibrant, and inclusive space, and platforms work you wouldn’t see anywhere else – apart from maybe at the Edinburgh Fringe and the financial aspects of that festival are super limiting in a way that Vault isn’t.

It’s awful that the festival is being turfed out and might not exist beyond this year – #SaveVAULT

Villain, Interrupted is about supervillains and therapy. It sounds blackly comic. Is that a fair comment?

Absolutely! The show is full of laugh out loud moments, but we also don’t shy away from the darker stuff – and hopefully it’s hitting all the right heartfelt emotions too 😂.

While it’s definitely not ‘issues’ drama, it does pack a punch – underneath all the superpowers and shadow-puppetry, we want to get audiences thinking about the way our culture deals with anything ‘other’.

We’ve been described as a ‘truly insightful, extremely funny and yet also quite affecting play’ – so take from that what you will! I think it’s the human condition – to laugh in the face of horrific situations.

We’ve got that extra superhero lens, but ultimately, the stuff we’re talking about is very real.

There’s a more serious thread to the show about redemption. Do you think anyone, even a supervillain, has the capacity to change?

Ooof what a great question. I think  mainly yes, and if you look at prison systems around the world – the way we manage ours (going by re-offending statistics) is one of the worst.

I don’t think our system really sees offenders as people, which means rehabilitation is an uphill battle from the moment a crime is committed.

The original idea of this show came from my love of Marvel films, and how they treat their villains, especially in the early phases. You often have the heroes and the villains doing very similar things, but it’s okay when the ‘good guys’ do it, which says a lot more about our society than an individual.

You also often have people who are misunderstood or mistreated, then they lash out and are called a villain for it, which is obviously a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So maybe the real question is, how do we expect people to redeem themselves when society keeps treating them as villains?

Production photo for Villain, Interrupted

I highlighted your show as one of those lost when Vault 2022 was cancelled. What’s happened to the show in the last year?

Thank you so much for that! Sometimes it’s felt like the show is cursed – it was first performed as our company’s debut back in 2019 at the Camden Fringe, and opened to critical acclaim, then became a finalist for an Off-West-End Award.

The momentum was ready to carry us into 2020… Lol jokes – pandemic!

We tried to reimagine it (web-series, audio-drama, immersive – oh my!) but VAULT 2022 was the comeback. I can’t describe to you the heart-break when it was cancelled. Micha (director and co-founder of Dolls in Amber) and I had to ask ourselves whether this was it.

Was it time to shelve Villain in favour of developing a new show? We’re so pleased to be able to bring it back for VAULT 2023 so it gets a fitting swansong!

What’s happening next to Dolls in Amber?

New shows! We’d love to do more with Villain, Interrupted (if any venues want to stage a longer run it please get in touch!) but it’s also time to get creating again.

Micha did a load of dramaturgy work in America last year and managed to come back with a patron – so we’ve got some development money in place to R&D our next projects.

One we’re particularly excited about follows the biblical Rapture – God put it in his diary and everything, but it’s rather snuck up on him and he’s not ready… (#relatable)

Meanwhile hell is raining down on Earth and a small group of people have taken refuge in the only building still standing – a Church. The weightwatchers start serious beef with the Tuesday Hot-Yoga group, while some Born-Again Christians are squashed into a corner, incensed they weren’t raptured.

It’s going to utilise the same multi-roling/puppetry/theatrics as Villain, with an added musical element that’ll incorporate everything from hymns to Christian rock – we can’t wait!