It begins with a simple yet beautifully plucked tune followed by eerie voices echoing out until they fill the room. And then comes a voice, a man reading out his letter to David Cameron, appealing to the old prime minister to let him cross the English Channel and finally find a home in the UK. Although the name Walls already hints at the hard hitting political themes that run through this play, such a loose connection allows for many areas to be explored. It ranges from the familiar communist repression seen in 20th century Europe to the less touched on issues with immigration seen in the modern day. Based on true stories, this fast paced and impeccably choreographed and acted play is ideal for those who enjoy thinking about these sorts of deep, political issues.

This play has you gripped to your seat in anticipation for almost the entire show

One moment, you are in 1989 East Berlin, being harassed and watched by the GDR government, and in the next you are in modern day Calais, the refugee camp known as the ‘Jungle’ filled with hundreds of immigrants, listening to their stories and dreams of getting to UK. The transitions seem flawless and, although we slip in and out of three peoples’ tales, two on their journey from Afghanistan to Calais and the other on a mission to get away from repressive Eastern German government, there is never any confusion about what is happening or where the action is supposed to be set.

Naturally, such action-packed tales are difficult to bring to the stage, yet The Flame Collective have managed it phenomenally. Much of the staging is set out in a very physical manner with masterful choreography that uses human bodies to represent many of the awful situations the characters have to go through. And when the action begins to slow down, the actors’ powerful monologues make you feel as if you are right there in that moment of their past, every single one brimming with emotion.

Technical sound effects aren’t needed in this play; all the sounds are added by either the actors on stage or the two musicians in the back, providing a depth of tone to the play with a violin and an oud, a Turkish instrument descended from a lute. With the actors beautiful harmonies laid on top of that, it sounds like it should be too much, but the combination is perfect for building the tension in the more exciting scenes.

Deeply emotional and hard hitting, this play has you gripped to your seat in anticipation for almost the entire show. With both tense action and deeply touching monologues, Walls flows along perfectly, it’s audience eager to find out the ending to these very human stories – and hoping they’re happy ones.

Reviews by Megan Atkins

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The Blurb

Set in Eastern Berlin (1989) and the Calais Jungle refugee camp (2016), Walls intercuts the true stories of young people who have been denied freedom by political and physical borders. In Berlin, we see a girl attempt to cross the Berlin Wall from east to west; in Calais, we follow the story of an Afghan boy who is trying to reach his family in the UK. Incorporating an array of physical ensemble movement, storytelling and live music, Walls is a visual whirlwind that has a lasting message about humanity. Winner at the London Student Drama Festival (2017).