Hove Old market

Until January 18

THE 1927 Theatre Company (the people behind the BBC Four production Golem) specialises in combining live performances with hand-drawn animation to create a heavily choreographed film/theatre crossover.

On their latest show, Roots, a “collection of folk jokes and tales from a simpler (pre-industrialised) time”, the effect is something like a graphic novel come to life but reminds me most of the animation explaining the Deathly Hallows in the penultimate Harry Potter film.

The folk tales themselves begin in familiar Grimms fairytale fashion, such as with a Fat Cat that takes revenge on anyone that says he is fat by eating them.

But these fairytales don’t reach a happy ending, or often much of an ending at all, concluding with a planet-sized cat drifting through space forever more, for example.

The partly animated format and pre-recorded narrators mean that the only thing wholly live on the night is the music.

Flanking the stage and playing a real variety of instruments, from traditional fiddle to a pair of musical saws, toward the second half of the show it becomes clear how important the high quality of the musical accompaniment is to the show as a whole, setting the mystical mood and making sense of the animation going on between the two musicians.

Over the course of the 80-minute show there are some funny jokes, a few too many penis jokes, and some far more interesting ones.

An interesting night of modern absurdist theatre, one in which the strangeness of the stories is matched by the style of delivery. Recommended.

Hugh Finzel