To Do List Reviews…The Animals And Children Took To The Streets

Apologies first – To Do List was at the opening night of this great 1927 production at the Battersea Arts Centre, and we’ve been incredibly slow at getting this review written up. Our only defence is that we’ve been pretty busy this week, and we thought The Animals And Children Took To The Streets really deserved our full attention.

We took our seats in the BAC already warmed by a glass or two of mulled wine from the downstairs bar and clutching a bag of sweeties, so we felt like we were on to a winner straight away. The show didn’t disappoint.

A seamless blend of live action and projected animations, The Animals and Children… takes a darkly comic dystopian view of life in the metropolis, immersing us in the dank and depressing surroundings of the Bayou Mansions and the daily struggles of its inhabitants.

Into the mix of criminal junk shop owners, depressed caretakers and rampant, rebellious delinquents, are thrust the innocents of the story: meek and naive Agnes Eve, and Little Evie Eve. It is their arrival, their struggles in the face of long-established squalor, and Little Evie’s accidental entanglement in an underhanded government scheme, which provides the emotional heart of the story. There is one other kind soul in the Bayou, however, and in the form of the downtrodden but well-meaning caretaker, we have our unlikely hero.

Or do we?

As Gordon Lightfoot once sang, heroes often fail, and in this instance you better be prepared to have your say on how everything turns out. We think the amount of mulled wine consumed before the show will probably have an effect.

1927 are back with a bang in this, their follow up to Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea, with writer/performer Suzanne Andrade on brilliant form as narrator, junk-shop owner and caretaker (all brilliantly characterised – the caretaker is one of the great silent acts of recent years); musician/composer Lillian Henley and Esme Appleton providing equally excellent support; and Paul Bill Barritt’s constructivist- and expressionist-influenced animations and backgrounds rendering perfectly (and not without humour) the atmosphere of the Bayou.

If traditional Christmas razzmatazz is what you’re after, get thee to a pantomime. If you want something a bit more interesting, with genuine laughs and a bucket full of ingenious invention , this is where you want to be. Oh, and try the gumdrops – tooth-stickingly awesome.

The Animals And Children Took To The Streets continues at the Battersea Arts Centre until 8th January 2011.