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Roots

Church Hill Theatre
Four stars

Things run deep in the 1927 company’s new compendium of folk tales, unearthed from the recesses of the British Library archive and brought to life for Edinburgh International Festival’s You Are Here strand. After their last EIF adventure with The Magic Flute, 1927 have gone back to their DIY origins with a mash-up of expressionistically inclined action performed by writer/director Suzanne Andrade and Esme Appleton, Paul Barritt’s ingenious animation and a musical score by Lillian Henry expanded to incorporate all manner of junk shop noises played by David Insua-Cao and Francesca Simmons. As a bonus, the baker’s dozen of tall tales come with extra added lip-syncing to narration and occasional characterisation from a plethora of accents.

This gives more colour and shade to the stories, which feature a menagerie of little creatures, from the fattest cat you’re ever likely to see, and a very chic looking beatnik ant fending off numerous suitors with deadpan subtitled disdain. There are ogres inhabiting a Wild West scenario, the unluckiest man alive and a self-aggrandising king with a - to be kind - unreconstructed attitude to women that should see him tossed off the throne forthwith.

This is all delivered as what is essentially a living storybook, with Andrade, Appleton and co transforming themselves with assorted hats and wigs or else simply pressing their faces to various holes in the wall and letting Barritt’s animation do the rest. The double-edged sword of the title of this co-production between 1927, EIF, HOME, Manchester and assorted American and European partners finally comes home to roost in the final story, a grotesque tale of the unexpected that trickles into old-school fantasy.

1927 may be getting back to their own roots, but their imaginative palette has expanded into the realms if the fantastical, while the full umbilical roots between ancient and modern forms of folk tale is brought home in the multi-faceted ways of sharing that suggests the international language of storytelling is more than safe in their hands.

The Herald, August 11th 2019

Ends



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