A greedy cat eats the world. A man lives with the personification of poverty. A king tests his wife’s compliance in increasingly cruel ways. An ogre challenges a town to a laughing contest. These are some of the stories that come together for Roots, the latest theatrical treat by British company 1927. Loosely inspired by obscure fables and folktales, the stories are mostly light on substance, but a slightly dark sense of whimsy and nostalgic yet ingenious visuals sweeps the audience along.

Roots. Photograph © Leigh Webber

The set for Rootsis essentially a blank wall, which comes to life with the animated projections designed by 1927’s co-Artistic Director, Paul Barritt. Each story’s aesthetic differs, though the overall sense is of children’s storybooks and silent films, particularly German Expressionist cinema. Old movies as well as vaudeville are also recalled in Genevieve Dunne and Philippa Hambly’s stark white face paint, which emphasises these two actors’ often wide eyes and puckered mouths. They play most of the characters; the rest are animated ones, which the performers interact with. Occasionally, actor and animation merge, most strikingly in Roots’ first tale about the cat. Hambly’s face...