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The Animals and Children Took to the Streets, HOME, Review

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by David Keyworth (subscribe)
I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester. My debut poetry pamphlet is available at
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Howls and Silent Screams

'Never work with children and animals', the famous showbiz maxim goes. Does this extend to animated children and animals? It is a question pertinent to the 1927's latest visit to HOME. The theatre company is back in Manchester after Golem was performed in 2015.

Bayou Mansions is a tenement block, which even an estate agent would struggle to say had 'potential'. It is "wriggling with perverts" and the "cats have scabies". It is a place where, perhaps, to quote either Mark Twain or George Bernard Shaw: "the lack of money is the root of all evil."

The Caretaker is the poor, woebegone soul tasked with keeping the cockroach infestation under control, whilst dodging missiles from the "biting, barking children." He dreams of buying a one-way ticket when he has saved up enough of his earnings.

HOME, Manchester, theatre, Suzanne Andrade, animation, Theatre Company 1927
The Animals And Children Took to the Streets, presented by 1927. Courtesy of 1927/HOME

Some high-wattage light – and a chance of romance – appears in the shape of Agnes Eaves (and daughter – Little Evie). Agnes is a would-be Mary Poppins who plans to transform the lives of Bayou's children via love and art classes.

The tale is told with a mixture of live actors (with painted faces) and animated characters whose actions are brilliantly synced up to the actor's movements.

The animation is of a 'primitive' pre-CGI style and all the better for it. In one scene, we see a cat in a bag slide down the Mansion's rubbish chute – unseen by multiple floors of scallywags.

All the action (written and directed by Suzanne Andrade) is underpinned by a kind of sinister fairground music and live keyboard soundtrack, which harks back to the era of silent films.

The protagonists tend towards caricature and there is not much space for character development. But the ever-changing graphic-novel style backdrop means that the production never loses energy.

 HOME, Manchester, theatre, Suzanne Andrade, animation, Theatre Company 1927,
Courtesy of 1927/HOME

The school/sixth-form parties in attendance seemed to be engaged for the full 70 minutes (without interval). They shouted out responses - panto-style – when the caretaker gave the option of either an idealistic or a realistic ending.

1927's production uses vintage animation, film and design - by Paul Barritt – to tell a serious story in an entertaining way. It previously toured the Middle East, in the wake of the Arab Spring and will be relevant as long as inequality and the threat of social breakdown exists.

Maybe a new motto should be - DO work with animated children and animals, as long as you have a first-rate technical and dramatic team on your side.

HOME, Manchester, theatre, Suzanne Andrade, animation, Theatre Company 1927
Courtesy of 1927/HOME

The Animals and Children Took To The Streets is performed by Genevieve Dunne, Rowena Lennon and Felicity Sparks. After the shows at HOME (on 16 February), the tour concludes at the Lyric Hammersmith, until 16th March.

Recommended age 11 plus.

HOME, Manchester, theatre, Suzanne Andrade, animation, Theatre Company 1927
Courtesy of 1927/HOME

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Why? Animated 70 minutes with dramatic impact
When: Until 16 February 2019
Phone: 0161 200 1500
Where: HOME Tony Wilson Place Manchester M15 4FN
Cost: £18 – £20 full (conc. available)
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