Theatre Review: ‘The Animals and Children Took to the Streets’ at Studio Theatre

'The Animals and Children Took to the Streets,' created and performed by the London-based performance company 1927 and presented as part of the Studio Theatre’s Special Events series. Photo courtesy of The Studio Theatre.

The Animals and Children Took to the Streets, created and performed by the London-based performance company 1927 and presented as part of the Studio Theatre’s Special Events series, is a multimedia journey into another world.

Through seamless transitions and the melding of live action with a fantastical and unique animation backdrop, 1927 invites the audience to leave behind the real world (along with portions of the known theatrical world), as all senses eagerly absorb 1927’s altered universe.

'The Animals and Children Took to the Streets.' Photo courtesy of The Studio Theatre.

The storyline plays out in “the City,” where the rich have “milk and honey in every Frigidaire,” while the poor are relegated to the “Bayou” quarter.  The Bayou is “squalid and overcrowded housing developments that are pulsing with cockroaches, overrun by twenty-something grannies, wriggling with perverts, and is dominated by the gangs of children that run riot through corridors and streets at night.”

Paul Barritt provides the animation for the rich, a sprawling city park filled with happy orderly children playing among green grasses and blooming trees; and the poor, Redherring Street and the Bayou where roaming bugs, linking pipes, and flashing neon “girls, girls, girls” light the night.

1927’s production of ‘The Animals and Children Took to the Streets’ is MESMERIZING.

Only three women portray all the live action characters, move all scenery, play all the music, and change costumes with speed to rival Superman.  The only other voice belongs to James Addie, who provides the inner monologue to the Bayou’s caretaker while Suzanne Andrade delivers the incredible expressions and movements so that the angst of the caretaker oozes from her like the mud filled streets.

Lillian Henley created and plays the entire show’s live soundtrack.  Her piano is by her side throughout changing backgrounds and characters and she never misses a beat.   Each melody and cabaret style songs propels the story through the life on Redherring Street and its mantra of “Born in the Bayou, die in the Bayou.”

'The Animals and Children Took to the Streets.' Photo courtesy of The Studio Theatre.

Esme Appleton’s talent shines as Agnes Eaves, Zelda, and the costume designer.  She completes the world of the Bayou by covering each character with white face, leopard print fabrics, and layers of large red fish cutouts on Redherring Street’s storekeeper and her daughter.

1927’s production of The Animals and Children Took to the Streets is MESMERIZING.  With animation that can stand on its own as a wonderful short film, songs that entertain like opening one colorful music box after another, and acting that easily escorts you into the world of the Bayou. It is easy to think that being born in the Bayou and dying there would not be so bad after all.

The Animals and Children Took to the Streets plays through Sunday July 1 at 1927 at the Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at 202-332-3300, or purchase them online.

About April Forrer

April Forrer has been a Maryland resident for over 15 years, having moved from Washington, DC after graduate school at the George Washington University. She began her writing career on Capitol Hill as a speech and legislation writer for two U.S. Representatives. She then started working with non-profits to enhance their media and development outreach. She now spends her professional time writing her first novel and designing and constructing costumes for theatrical productions. She savors her time spent with her three children, her dog and her husband.