Review: ★★★★ Think Of England, The Vault Festival

Another outstanding show at the Vault Festival, ‘Think of England’ has an advantage, in that it fits very well in its surroundings. Set during World War Two, it takes place in a literal vault and it shows an evening during the war with the main focus on women. This is what the theatre company Anonymous Is A Woman focusses on in all their shows and the result in Think of England was a beautiful, untold story of the women of the war.

The evening is spent with the two friends, Bette and Vera as they prepare for a party to cheer everyone up. Three soldiers join them and the emotions run wild for the rest of the evening. The audience gets invited to take part of the party, whether it’s to help prepare a few things or join the jive routine they so gracefully teach everyone and it made them feel like they belonged. As everyone sings along to ‘There Will Always Be an England’, even the non-English people start feeling patriotic!

As most people who has been to the Vaults know, it’s incredibly difficult to escape the sounds of the passing trains over the tunnel – which can normally be quite annoying, but for ‘Think Of England’ it was hard to tell which was sound effects of bombs and which were just the trains above your heads. Perfect acoustic for a war time show, with the walls and the humidity and everything around you just adding to the atmosphere of hiding out in a tunnel during the war.

The acting is fantastic. The audience got incredibly involved, especially thanks to Pip Brignall, who manages to make everyone hate his guts. They all managed to proper act with their whole body and the cute little moments of flirtation felt so incredibly real that you could feel it in your own body. Unfortunately some of their dialogue was a little washed out by acting with their backs to half the audience on a traverse stage set-up and the stage combat could have been stronger.

Having two heart warming actresses in Madeline Gould and Leila Sykes, the audience feel a warm blanket of equality and feminism with quotes such ‘I can be as honest as God on my own’ – Gould in answer to not needing a man. Gould is also the writer of the show, a show that is still relevant even 75 years later, as it’s commenting on the power play between men and women, with the women taking control of their own lives.

‘Think of England’ is a cute love story, a story that emphasises the realness of war and a story that really shows feminism from a different perspective than most theatre today. The title fits perfectly to the show, in terms of patriotism and the saying ‘close your eyes and think of England’. It’s a warm story that sends you back in time and makes you relive an evening with typical characters of the time. With amazing acting, writing and stage management this is definitely a show you should go see.

Yasmin Simsek

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