HOME Theatre, Manchester; Thursday 7th February, 2019
At number 3 Red Herring Street in the lousiest, grottiest part of town, there lies a cockroach-infested tenement block known as the Bayou Mansions – a dreadful, filthy old hovel inhabited by no-good seedy tricksters and lowlife perverts.
But as frightful as these unsavoury occupants are, their repugnant exploits pale into insignificance compared to the horrors of what happens at night – for that’s when the animals and children take to the streets.
This then is the Bayou, a neglected neighbourhood where there is no hope – the residents are fully aware: if you’re born into the Bayou, you’ll die in the Bayou.
Enter the diminutive figure of missionary do-gooder Agnes Eaves and her impossibly sweet little daughter Evie Eaves. Can they turn the Bayou around, can they save these children with simple acts of love and kindness?
1927 Productions’ The Animals And Children Took To The Streets is more than a stage play, this is delivery of a fully developed world of magical fantasy and curious intrigue. Despite having only three performers and a set made of nothing more than three blank screens, what comes across is ninety minutes of breathtaking escapism.
The technical delivery is outstanding. Projected onto the blank screens are animations into which the three performers seem to fully merge and coalesce. Appreciation of the two-dimensional form of the set evaporates in just seconds, so clever is the interaction between human performer and projected image that the mind just can’t decide whether it’s a human superimposed on a cartoon or whether the cartoon is now the real world.
Thematically, there is a strong punk cabaret feel: both to the music being expertly delivered on a piano behind the set as well as to the animations being projected. The story of Agnes and Evie Eaves is a dark one, but the tension is completely eased by the injection of a strong fantasy element, most evident in the use of incredible fairytale-like characters whose names alone set the imagination racing: Racist Wayne and his eight racist children; Zelda and The Pirates; and Mrs Willicar the junk shop owner.
The Animals And Children Took To The Streets is an extraordinary storytelling experience. This is a trip down a rabbit hole which just gets better with every turn it takes.
The underlying narrative seems to be one of morality – specifically how delinquent children from an undesirable part of town are treated, but this is combined with two outstanding features: the show is punctuated by genuinely funny jokes that serve as abrupt reminders that this is not a children’s pantomime; and the overall experience just oozes a warm, glowing charm that is just so irresistibly alluring.
The Animals And Children Took To The Streets is a magnificent theatre production: a beautifully presented work of art in which all the components of a stage show just seem to come together in a pleasantly captivating way.
|Visual pleasure||The animations being projected onto screens and the use of 2-d cardboard cut-outs as minor props are a stroke of genius. From start to finish, the entire on-stage presentation is quite simply a work of art.||5|
|Auditory pleasure||Beautifully delivered piano performance from just behind the set, the composition worked perfectly, the entire performance felt so organic.||5|
|Architecture & Theme||A captivating and alluring story that flowed smoothly with hilarious twists and a comforting and satisfying end. Let down only by the fact that it seemed just a tiny, tiny bit too long, and it was very specifically the very last ~5 mins that seemed to just reach a little too far when an otherwise wholly satisfying endpoint seemed to have arrived.||4|
|Artistic delivery||Three outstanding acting, singing and physical movement performances. The fusion and co-ordination between on-stage performance and projected visuals was a thing of beauty.||5|
|Overall impact||Looked good, sounded good, told a brilliant story – this is an awe-inspiring theatrical creation which deserves to be seen again.||5|
|0||Detrimental – This aspect of the performance was so bad that it made the overall experience worse|
|1||Weak – This aspect of the performance was poor|
|2||Adequate – This aspect of the performance was perfectly acceptable, though nothing special|
|3||Good – This aspect of the performance was above average, it pleased in some way|
|4||Excellent – This aspect of the performance was much better than normal, it was impressive|
|5||Awe-inspiring – This aspect of the performance was exceptional, new boundaries were pushed.|