In a welcome move, 1927’s dazzling collision of animation and live action has been given house room at the National Theatre.
Taking the form of a graphic novel made flesh the production is set in the Bayou Mansions, the festering underside of an unnamed city. The piece feels more cohesive than the company’s earlier show, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, less episodic, more wholly realised.
Paul Barritt’s animations are gloriously imaginative, referencing everything from Georges Melies’ A Trip to the Moon through to Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro’s Delicatessen and topping the lot with a generous scattering of Soviet constructivism. Performers Suzanne Andrade and Esme Appleton interact with the animated backdrop and their necessarily limited movements become part of the production’s particular aesthetic, while Lillian Henley, who supplies the live piano accompaniment, is herself woven into the piece.
An air of resignation permeates – if you’re “born in the Bayou, you die in the Bayou.” The characters try to break free, to escape, to revolt and rebel, but their fates are sealed. Interesting the piece has a slightly different atmosphere in the Cottesloe than in its original London home, the BAC. The audience seems more subdued, more guarded. It’s the combination of this new dynamic and the events of the summer that give Zelda’s rallying cry of “we want what you have” a little extra spice, a shade more potency.
Cottesloe, National, London, December 8-January 3
- Suzanne Andrade
- Suzanne Andrade, Paul Barritt
- Cast includes
- Suzanne Andrade, Lillian Henley, Esme Appleton
- Running time
- 1hr 10mins