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I saw Amira and Gad at The Vault in February 2020. I was excited about visiting The Vault as I’d never been there before, it is situated in the graffiti tunnel under Waterloo station. The atmosphere was buzzing with graffiti artists spraying vibrant colours onto the clammy brick walls, with the perfume of “nail varnish” filling the air and skateboarders practicing new tricks, failing and trying again- you could hear their wheels scraping on the pavement.

Looks can be deceiving but “don’t judge a book by its cover”, I must admit I found the first appearance of the theatre a bit confusing but once I got inside it was a great use of the space and brilliant initiative of the designer.  Interestingly the performance space was the arch of a tunnel, a very unique space to show off your talents. Inside was dark and dank with an annoyingly consistent dripping sound, it really felt like a “no man’s land” and I felt uncomfortable. But I was encouraged from knowing that this piece was a great immersive adventure that would take me on a journey of conflict and war with two fighting nations, one boy and one girl who would question, who their real enemies were.

I enjoyed the immersive aspect of the play, in the opening scene myself and a few audience members volunteered to search the arch for slate tiles with letters printed on them.  These letters spelt the title of the play and later we had to find the purple pages to Gads story. As a reward we received little golden keys with intricate patterns on their handles, the rebel archivist Vasilisa told us “You must keep these keys safe” and as a bonus we were allowed to take them home as a keepsake.

It was certainly believable with adults acting as children because they were more playful and imaginative in their demeanour and when they spoke, they would draw out words and make their movement more relaxed.  They were very dramatic when telling stories.

Ed played the violin to get the audience into the mood.  He would pluck the string sometimes to raise the tension level of the audience who were on the edge of their seats, he would play with the bow and sometimes he would fade for a sad effect, it gave the show a nice feel to have string music.

I didn’t like the sight of the mean baddie puppet Archibald.  His presence made me feel queasy, uneasy and awkward.  He was scary, tall, lean and he slunk around the stage making jerky, quick movements. Archibald represented the ignorant adults, trying to keep the conflict in stories and control the next generation, you probably think Archibald’s a human but he’s an evil mole.

I really enjoyed meeting the actors after the show, they were warm and funny.  It was riveting having a conversation with actors who a minute ago did a brilliant show on stage.

All in all, Aamira and Gad was a great production and BIMB certainly tackled war and conflict for all ages in a fun and informative way.

Their message of love and hope is something we can all use in our daily lives.

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