Think of England: Vault Festival, London
Reviewed 7th February 2018 by Amanda Reynolds
For this immersive piece of theatre the audience are welcomed into a smoky vault to the sound of a bellowing air raid siren. With the scene quickly being set, the audience are transported to the Second World War. The Waterloo Vaults are a fantastic location for this 1940’s inspired story focusing on a real-life war time scandal following Bette and Vera who have been employed to travel the country hosting tea dances to boost morale. However, the women’s real purpose is to send the young men off to fight having experienced all of life’s pleasures.
It’s easy to get drawn into the story between Bette, Vera and the three Canadian RAF pilots who turn up at the air raid shelter. After a short introductory explanation of the characters the tension quickly rises and the audience is sucked into a world in the midst of war. The loud, echoing overhead sounds of bombs and the static war time songs which is played throughout the production certainly adds to this effect.
This production is fully immersive and the audience are involved from the outset as Bette gives out barley sugars and the audience are invited to help decorate the shelter and join in with war time songs. A highlight of the night for many, is the chance to learn and take part in the jive.
Playwright and Vera herself, Madeline Gould, has created interesting characters and an eventful plot which develops as the evening goes on. All five members of the cast were highly effective in this intimate environment; displaying a range of emotions realistically and at ease.
The Anonymous is a Woman Theatre Company claim that Think of England challenges preconceived ideas about the attitudes of both sexes about love, sex, gender and duty. This is something which becomes more prevalent during the latter part of the play. The issues are handled sensitively and are not thrown in the audiences faces. Instead, the audience gets to see all viewpoints and come to their own conclusions.
This stellar production certainly does a great job of engaging the audience and despite it running over time, the audience certainly left having enjoyed a night out. This is definitely one to catch during its limited run at the Vault Festival.
Think of England runs at the Vault Festival until Sunday 11th February 2018. For more information and tickets click here.