Boundary-pushing theatre company 1927 bring their brand-new show to The Old Market kicking off 2020 with real style. Described as a “malignant mosaic of morbid mysteries” and following their previous hit shows ‘Golem’ and ‘The Animals And Children Took To The Streets’, Roots promised to be a theatrical treat imbued with the company’s signature flair and charm.
From the off the show seamlessly incorporates Paul Barritt’s intricately detailed projection throughout with every scene of every tale playing out in front of stylised animation. The fantastic blend of live action and projection perfectly manipulates the audience’s focus and attention in order to guide us through this homage to the weird and wonderful lurking within the mundane. The eclectic nature of the fairy tales that make up the show, unearthed by the company from The Aarne Index, allow for some wonderful depth; toying with the macabre whilst maintaining a fantastic sense of humour throughout.
Roots is immaculate in its dishevelment. The skill and precision of the performance is a wonder as the show is expertly brought to life by performers Francesca Simmons, Suzanne Andrade, David Insua-Cao and Esme Appleton. Every move is measured, every action calculated with not a gesture wasted. They must be to ensure the minute does not get lost in the sheer spectacle of it all and there are real moments of gentle warmth throughout that help layer the production. They are the in-breath before the absurd and help prevent a visual sensory overload that could so easily occur were this sort of show helmed by less astute hands. Live music, played out on anything and everything from violins to Peruvian prayer boxes, underscores the action and fleshes out the show as a whole, adding fun to the fizz and wallop to the mystery.
Roots is a visceral retelling of forgotten tales that deserve to be retold if for no other reason than that they can be told well. Really, really well. 1927 have constructed a manifesto on theatrical craftsmanship, a love-letter to film and stagecraft, and it is not to be missed!
The Old Market, Tuesday 7th January 2020