'The Animals And The Children Took To The Streets '
Audience fascinated by Lyric Theatre production says Susan Stanley-Carroll
Pics Credit Alex Brenner
If you enjoy quirky and explorative theatrical productions involving mixed media, animations and contemporary music then grab a ticket from the Box Office of the Hammersmith’s Lyric Theatre as this off beat production of “The Animals and the Children Took to the Streets” will be just up your street.
The show involves three exceptional actors: Genevieve Dunne, Rowena Lennon, and Felicity Sparks and is performed alongside hundreds of animated children, animals and insects - including an infestation of nimble cockroaches!
At times this intriguing theatrical experience reminded me of Japanese Noh theatre, the dramas of Berthold Brecht’s dramas, and in 1999 the Lyric’s sensational production “Tiger Lily”.
The theatre company 1927 explores in their production the sad and disparate lives of abject and impoverished people living in soulless, slum tenement blocks. The grime, slime, odours and violence are stated in an almost graphic novel format.
The plot centres around Agnes Eaves, an altruistic, middle class, single mother, who has moved into Bayou Mansions, a tenement slum on Red Herring Street with her daughter little Evie. Evie is played by an animated cartoon character - whereas Agnes is played by a human actor. Agnes sets up a children’s Art Club to help the angry gangs of local children but these feral kids destroy the place that was to be their refuge.
The local mayor eventually calms the children by enticing them to eat Granny’s Gumdrops that sedates them. Little Evie disappears. Agnes seeks help from the decidedly weird and creepy caretaker and as the action develops the audience is pulled deeply into this comic-tragedy by the mesmeric effect of Lily Henley’s live piano music.
Suzanne Andrade’s satirical, witty script and Paul Barritt’s riveting animations swirl together to create a production that should not be missed by anyone interested in drama that stimulates and moves us on from the usual meat and two veg on the menus of many of our static West End theatres. This global production has travelled round the world from the Battersea Arts Centre, the Royal National Theatre, to the Sydney Opera House and now it has returned to the Lyric Theatre pulling in West London audiences.
On the night I attended it was a joy to see the stalls packed with straight young backs eagerly tuning into every nuance on the stage - laughing and commiserating with the real and the animated characters. Congratulations to a dedicated group of teachers, who had bought a coach load of sixth formers, all the way from Tiptree in Essex. These young people, judging from their enthusiastic chatter in the foyer, had been inspired by this poignant, comic, surreal production delivered superbly by the 1927 theatre company.
16 March, 2019