Thursday, 11 December 2014

Theatre review: Golem

The follow-up to their big hit The Animals and Children Took to the Streets, 1927's Golem is based on a novel by Gustav Meyrink and follows a bullied, socially awkward young man called Robert, who finds a job manually backing up binary data where he makes similarly-geeky friends and even a possible girlfriend. One day, though, his inventor friend Philip manages to create real Golems - the mythical clay men who obey their owners' every command - and sell one to Robert. Golem not only helps with work but has handy hints for a better social life as well, but when a sinister corporation buys out Philip's company, Golem first finds the power of speech, then starts to use it to tell his owner what to do. As more people buy Golems, the slaves start to become the masters and homogenise the world in their own image.

1927's unique performance style is to embrace the use of projection in theatre to the point where the show is mostly projected as a huge animation, with which the live performers - Esme Appleton, Will Close, Lillian Henley, Rose Robinson and Shamira Turner - interact.

It's a very clever technique and one which clearly requires a huge amount of rehearsal to get the timing just right. And the style that mimics a kind of twee 1920s silent movie is endearing, but only in small doses, and 95 minutes is way too big a dose. Although there's witty touches throughout the show that raise chuckles, the cleverness of how the performance is put together isn't enough to hold my interest that long, and the style's cutesiness quickly becomes annoying. Add to this a metaphor about commercialisation and over-reliance on technology that's delivered with sledgehammer subtlety, and Golem wore out its welcome with me pretty quickly.

Golem by Suzanne Andrade and 1927, based on Der Golem by Gustav Meyrink, is booking until the 31st of January at the Young Vic.

Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes straight through.

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