Art is an amazing thing. It can whisk an audience away to an entirely different place and time. It can create complex worlds and riveting characters completely unique to the work at hand. It can be an escape from an all-too-often boring and monotonous life. Sometimes these worlds are pleasant; other times, not so much. 1927, a London-based performance company, takes the audience through a grim and humorous realm in “The Animals and Children Took to the Streets,” a production with a narrative marked by suspicion and deception.

1927: The Animals and Children Took to the Streets

April 10-14
Performance Network

1927 was co-founded in 2005 by Suzanne Andrade and Paul Barritt. The company’s journey to Ann Arbor started a few years ago, when they impressed a University Musical Society employee. Mary Roeder, associate manager of community engagement within the education and community engagement department of UMS, saw the production at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh and petitioned to bring it to Ann Arbor.

“The Animals and Children Took to the Streets” takes place in a part of the city known as the Bayou, where a large dilapidated tenement block known as the Bayou Mansions houses a host of unseemly characters. One night, the optimistic Agnes Eaves and her daughter come to stay, much to the curiosity of the other tenets.

“As a whole, it’s one the best conceived and most fun pieces of theater I’ve ever seen,” Roeder said. “It is, as I said, a graphic novel come to life. You feel a little bit like you’re trapped in a cartoon when you’re watching it. It’s a combination of animation, video and a live cast interacting with that video.”

The animation and video play an important role in conveying the darkly comic setting of the work. And for those who feel that electronics distract from the performance, fear not.

“It’s done so seamlessly that you sort of forget they’re actually live actors. You think they’re apart of this film you’re watching,” Roeder said.

All creative members of 1927 come from different artistic backgrounds and are known for their unique combination of artistic mediums, employing a diverse array of both pre-recorded and live material.

“That’s really their aesthetic,” Roeder said, “combining performance with animation. It’s something that you’ll see in all of their work.”

The styling of the actors and the setting is a nod to the early days of film and lends the production a noir feel.

“They’re really inspired by silent film and cabaret, so there’s a sort of nostalgia to it,” Roeder said.

“The Animals and Children Took to the Streets” is sure to intrigue theater lovers, film buffs and casual audience members alike.

“I honestly say that it’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen,” Roeder said. “It’s going to be 70 minutes of the most fun somebody could have in the theater. You completely lose yourself in this world that they’ve created.”

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