The story of Eavy Eaves and her mother, ministering to the unruly children of Red Herring Street, is macabre and wonderful, using beautifully crafted projections, RP accents, white faces and live music.
My first encounter with 1927 happened in the less than perfect theatrical setting of Latitude’s film and music tent in 2009 as they performed their Edinburgh smash The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea to a small but appreciative audience. It was perhaps apt that my second encounter was in the jam-packed Latitude theatre tent – still not quite perfect I hasten to add as there was quite a noisy dancing robot outside. The Animals and the Children took to the Streets arrived at Latitude following a string of international dates and sell out run at BAC and it is easy to understand its popularity.
I have seen no other theatre company manipulate and interact with projections better than 1927. The opening sequence as performer Suzanne Andrade enters an elevator and descends into the grotty bowels of Bayou Mansions on Red Herring Street sets the tone for the rest of the show – constant ingenuity. The performers, backdropped by Paul Barritt’s gorgeously macabre animations, play with perspective masterfully and the visuals are accompanied perfectly by the haunting and at times biting piano soundtrack of Lillian Henley.
Documenting the arrival of prim Agnes Eaves and her animated daughter Evey into an especially grimy flat in Bayou Mansions as they aim to save the wild and unruly children of the estate, The Animals… unfolds into a metaphor about class relationships, social control and our willingness to turn our backs on each other when we don’t like what we see. It was entertaining throughout, but at times felt a little heavy-handed and prescriptive. The company are so caught up on witticism and detail that the motor driving the narrative of the piece was a bit neglected, which caused my attention to wander. I am sure I am not the first reviewer to level at 1927 a slight imbalance between style and substance. Thankfully, the style this company have developed is something truly special.
You are unlikely to have a more visually arresting experience in the theatre this year, so catch 1927 whenever and wherever possible.