The Animals and Children Took to the Streets – HOME, Manchester

Who came in the night, while we were asleep? Where are all the children of Red Herring Street?“. The residents of the Bayou ask themselves these questions after something mysterious happens to the unruly children of Red Herring Street.

Here in the Bayou, it is ‘hard to keep the wolf from the door’.

The Bayou is a fictional area of social deprivation, wherein lies the dilapidated tenement block on Red Herring Street. At night, the animals and children take to the streets, causing havoc amongst the city’s residents. Agnes Eaves and her daughter, Evie, arrive in the Bayou late one night, determined to transform the children into well-behaved citizens, by organising art classes. However, dried pasta bows and PVA glue will only get you so far.

Mr Mayor has a better plan. After his cat, Mr Miaow, is held hostage by the mischievous children, he formulates a sedative ‘more addictive than crystal meth’, disguised as sweets. One night, an ice cream van patrols the streets, offering Granny’s Gumdrops to the children, who are then taken to a rehabilitation centre. Surprisingly, the curtain-twitchers who live in the Bayou breathe a sigh of relief.

1927 Productions merge superb film and animation with live music, performance and storytelling. Synchronised to perfection, three performers bring the Bayou to life by creating a plethora of fantastic characters who seamlessly interact with the visuals. From the seedy owner of a second hand ‘shit shop’, selling stolen goods and evading the police, to the melancholic caretaker, these characters are delightfully portrayed by the talented trio. It is not until the show finishes that you realise there are only three performers. It is a testament to their artistic dexterity and the believability of the characters they create.

Paul Barritt‘s sublime animation and films are pivotal to The Animals and Children Took to the Streets. A unique blend of surrealism and expressionism lends the Bayou a Fritz-Langian quality. The animations are seductively dark and sinister, exposing the destitution of the tenement block, described as a ‘fully furnished shit hole’. Cockroaches are ever present, the walls are brown and filthy, putrefaction and decay reveal the burning social injustices affecting the residents of the Bayou. “When you are born in the Bayou, you die in the Bayou“. This fictional world is strikingly relevant to the one we live in.

The production’s stunning visuals are accompanied by a fantastic musical score and amusing songs. A piano is played on stage throughout the performance by Felicity Sparks, giving the show a playful rhythm, emulating the mood of silent movies. Keeping the show upbeat and lighthearted, this score enhances the comedy contained within the humorous song lyrics.

The Animals and Children Took to the Streets defied my expectations and blew me away. Before the show started, I was creepily handed a packet of Granny’s Gumdrops by an Usherette wearing leopard print. Slightly disturbing… During the performance, I grinned from start to finish. Visually spectacular and technically flawless, everything about this production is utter perfection.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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