The Animals and Children Took to the Streets | 1927Left & Cover - Esme Appleton

This show is different, darkly funny, with a unique aesthetic and very stylishly done. It’s beautifully written; fabulous, fun, nasty and weird; polished and surprising throughout.

are an ensemble consisting of British performer Esme Appleton, writer/performer Suzanne Andrade, animator/performer/artist Paul Barritt, and composer/ performer Lillian Henley. Melbourne last saw them in Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea a couple of years ago.

Their new show involves a somewhat modernist take on the look and feel of silent movies in an odd, decayed city setting, where naïve mother Agnes Eaves and her little daughter Evie arrive at The Bayou Mansion, a derelict tenement block in the hopes of productively engaging the tenement’s ruffian children in collage projects. The locals include a gloomy Tim Burton-esque caretaker, alcoholics, crims, cockroaches, skinks, negligent parents and a growing gang of neighbourhood kids creating mayhem. Not to mention Wayne the Racist and his eight racist children. On the good side of town you have a mayor who will stop at nothing to keep his parks clean and tidy for a nicer class of people.

There is a message of sorts here about gentrification and the ghetto-lands of housing estates and self-perpetuating poverty but it happens incidentally. Fine entertainment is 1927’s driving force and they take such glee in their creation of sad, doomed characters in their animated wonderland of gloom. The images and tableaux are imaginative and utterly enjoyable. With the performers appearing in windows, three screens receiving projection and the actors interacting with the animated film, plus the story deliciously narrated by writer Suzanne Andrade, and the original live music, it is all too, too delightful. Physical performance and animation are cleverly combined with a wry black-as-pitch sense of humour, gorgeous attention to detail, old-fashioned cabaret music and semi-spoken song and stunning illustration to make something otherworldly but also oddly familiar.

If you enjoy pantomime or the films of Louise Brooks or the music of the Kransky Sisters or the animation of Jasper Morrell, or the songs of Camille O’Sullivan, or the writing style of Anne Enwright, just to name a few, you will adore this. You will adore it, anyway.

Malthouse Theatre & British Council present
The Animals & Children Took To The Streets
Created & Performed by 1927

Venue: Beckett Theatre
Dates: November 9 - 28, 2010

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