Youngsters provide a celebration of the imagination and a reminder of hope - video and review of Heartbreak Productions competition show in Leamington

Review by Nick Le Mesurier of Escape from Lockdown: The winners of the Tell Me a Story Competition

Wednesday, 23rd September 2020, 5:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd September 2020, 5:52 pm

Escape from Lockdown: The winners of the Tell Me a Story Competition

Heartbreak Productions

Artistic director and film director Peter Mimmack

The winners.

Watch it here: by Nick Le Mesurier

Way back, in the depths of lockdown, a call went out from Leamington Spa’s Heartbreak Productions, a call to the young people of the country to point a way out of lockdown by telling stories. And in true fairy tale fashion they responded in their hundreds.

Stories of all kinds: some in writing, some in pictures; fairy stories, fantasy stories, stories of courage, humour and transformation.

From these the production team at Heartbreak took on the tough task of choosing just eight to turn into short films. They were premiered together under the heading Escape From Lockdown on 12 September in North Hall, Leamington, and the show went out live on the day on YouTube. This lovely warm event is now available to view on

The screening of the production.

The framing device is simple. In EL Day, by Juno Wilkins, Grandmother (Ann Mulraine) and her Granddaughter (Isabella James) look back from the future some fifty years hence via a holograph image at the stories of 2020. First up is Germinator, by Urban Towers, in which Bodie the dog leads superhero Bradley (Daryl Hughes) to a bottle of magic cleaning fluid that cleans the world of

coronavirus in a cloud of rainbow spray.

Then there’s Hope by May Vaughan in which Amelia (Marshall Lovesey) discovers a book tucked away in a tree in an otherwise deserted Jephson Gardens. The story tells of a princess called Raven who fears she has lost her mother and father but is reunited in a magical ending. Exhaustion, based on artwork by Rylee Barrett and adapted and played by Emma Hodgkinson, is a more mature story that perfectly expresses the pressures experienced every day by a doctor working in an intensive care unit. It is raw stuff, harrowing and deeply moving.

A lighter note is struck by The Panda Plan by Oliver Gore, a lovely cartoon in which a group of pandas abandoned in a zoo plan a daring escape. We are then led by Evie (Ashleigh Aston) down through the Sewer Pipe by Daisy Ham through a portal into a time just before Lockdown. With V-Zombies by Samuel Dudley-Staite we follow our heroes Sam (Adam Simmons) and Reiss (Christian Anstee) into a world of fantasy engineering and a magic catapult that throws a meteor dragged through a rift in space-time to destroy all the V-Zombies (viruses) in the world. Finally we have Loss of Colour, in which a monochrome world characterised by sadness and alienation is transformed into one of colour through hope, helpfulness and knock-knock jokes.

The winner, May Vaughan.

Every competition must have a winner, and the award went to May Vaughan for Hope. But for my money any would have deserved the crown. A huge team led by Peter Mimmack and Greg Cole put together the show with a lot of technical jiggery-pokery and over 500 hours of editing. It’s a celebration of the imagination and a reminder, if ever we needed it, where our hopes should lie.