“WE have been truly overwhelmed.”

That’s the reaction from Bradford’s Mind the Gap theatre company following the world premiere of Zara - an epic outdoor production featuring a giant mechanical baby the size of a double-decker bus, 3D footage, tanks, cherry pickers, a soaring original score and a cast of 100.

The “show for all the senses” took over the courtyard of Halifax’s transformed Piece Hall over the weekend and received a rapturous response.

These stunning pictures show how the show came to life in the majestic surroundings of the Piece Hall, the only surviving 18th century cloth hall.

Four years in the making, Zara explores complex issues of disability and parenthood.

It’s a story of a mother fighting for her baby and speaking ahead of the premiere, Liz Pugh, co-founder of outdoor arts specialists Walk the Plank said: “The scale of the baby is a metaphor for the scale of the challenge facing this mother, who has a learning disability.

“I hope it shines a spotlight on this in a spectacular, visual way.

“It’s a huge visual spectacle, but it’s also a beautiful, loveable baby. We want the audience to love her as much as Zara does.”

Speaking about the response to the show, Rob Abbey, Audience Development Officer at Manningham-based Mind the Gap, said: “It has been four years since director Joyce Nga Yu Lee came into Mind the Gap and said ‘I want to make a giant baby’ and to see the show come to fruition at the stunning Piece Hall this weekend has been absolutely wonderful.

"Zara was received with rapturous applause on both nights to live audiences totalling almost 3,500, with a further 1,200 people tuning into the livestream on the Saturday night.”

He added: “The intention of the show has always been to open up the often hidden stories of parents with learning disabilities to new audiences and we have been truly overwhelmed by the positive and sometimes emotional response to Zara.

"It has been fantastic to work with our 100 strong integrated community cast from across the region, some of whom have never been on stage before.”

Zara is the highlight of Mind the Gap’s 30th anniversary programme. JoAnne Haines, who plays the lead role, went to Walk the Plank to learn how to perform aerial work for the show, and four Mind the Gap interns have been working backstage, including associate producer Paul Wilshaw.

Following the world premiere, Zara will also be staged at Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, home of the Imperial War Museum in London.