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1927, a theatre company based in East London was described as “frighteningly gifted” by The Times, UK, and I understood why last night.  With the use of modern technology, 1927 likes kickin’ it old school, their performances reminiscent of a silent film. An animator, writer, storyteller and musician come together to tell a dark fairytale set in a decrepit city, Red Herring Street to be precise, full of fly-by-night characters – including shadow nannies and cat killers. The four unique talents are also actors in their own show.

So far so good, but it is the manner in which the story is told that makes 1927 “frighteningly gifted”. The four performers stand in front of three large screens with cut outs that function as windows on buildings, ice-cream trucks, and trains depending on the animation that’s projected on it. The actor perhaps screams and the word “help” dances across the screen or the performer sweeps and a dust cloud appears precisely on the projection. I spoke to the pianist and singer Lillian Henley whilst they were still in rehearsals in London and she assured me that synchronizing the acting to the animation was a lengthy process.

“It takes a long time to coordinate the actor and animation to be working together. As much as it is cut and choreographed, I still give musical cues for the actor to get the timing precisely right.”

Leaving aside the technicalities (which is hard to do because the animation was fantastic), 1927’s basic storytelling was close to stealing the show. They sang, spoke in accents, acted without speaking at all, made fun of themselves and if you paid careful attention scattered hilarious one-liners and inappropriate references until one of the two endings, which the audience was prompted to choose.

For just over an hour, 1927 makes you forget that we live in a 3D-crazed 2010 and reminds you that technology can and should accompany a great story first and foremost.

Until 6 Nov. The Studio, Sydney Opera House, $30-$49, 9250 7777,


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