26th December 2019

Review: Roots

Theatre Editor Jay Darcy reviews 1927’s Roots at HOME
Review: Roots
Photo: 1927.

Following on from the success of Golem and The Animal and Children Took to the Streets, 1927 are back at HOME with their latest production, Roots.

Roots is a celebration of ‘other cultures,’ told through 1927’s famed blending of theatre, animation and storytelling. 1927 claim to have ‘unearthed a series of rarely told folktales that offer a glimpse into imaginations from a pre-industrialised age’, with this production ‘considering the narratives of our forefathers and how they might shape the stories of our future’.

Due to ridiculous traffic from Pendle to Burnley in Lancashire, and then again in Manchester, I arrived at HOME a few minutes late. However, due to the quiet nature of the first story, no entrance until 12 minutes had passed was allowed – once “the fat cat has been fed”, I was told. So, obviously, I cannot comment on the first story, but my writer Urussa told me she enjoyed it.

The stories that I did see, though, were all mesmerising. They included a wise King putting his wife to the test, an old couple fighting over a magic bird’s heart due to it giving whoever eats it superpowers, and the doomed love story of a French ant. There was also a story that was completely animated and did not involve any of the human actors.

1927 productions are cooky and quirky, magical and whimsical, and weird, wild and wonderful. The writers and actors did a brilliant job of creating and playing a great number of characters, each distinct from the others. Live music was also created onstage; the music was fun and folksy. 1927 describe the live score as ‘involving Peruvian prayer boxes, donkey jaws, violins, and musical saws’.

The star of the show, though, has to be the moving animation, which I can only describe as Tim Burton taking over CBeebies, or CBeebies on steroids, or Tim Burton taking over CBeebies on steroids – with both him and CBeebies being on steroids!

I previously saw The Animal and Children Took to the Streets earlier this year. Both productions had the same chilling, unsettling effect on me. Watching a 1927 production is like being transported into an intimate and claustrophobic but at the same time infinite and overwhelming dreamworld, with everything, from the bold, quirky animation to the soft, childlike voices of the actors working to create an alternate dimension that I enjoy visiting but cannot wait to escape.

It really is quite difficult to talk about 1927 to somebody who has never seen one of their productions, which is why you all really ought to catch Roots before it finishes its 3-week stay at HOME on 30th Dec. And if you are home over the holidays, so cannot make a trip to HOME, keep an eye on HOME’s (this really is getting confusing, isn’t it?) website, because I’m sure 1927 will be back before we know it.

Jay Darcy

Jay Darcy

Theatre Editor. Instagram & Twitter: @jaydarcy7. Email: [email protected].

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