by Suzanne Andrade.
Young Vic 66 The Cut SE1 8LZ To 31 January 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 1hr 35min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7922 2922.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 January.
The human condition today, in graphic detail.
It’s not unusual to refer to a theatre performance as a ‘show’. But it’s rarely as appropriate as with theatre company 1927. And if their name, put that way, sounds like something from a catalogue, that’s not inappropriate for this ‘show’.
Which explores the increasing creation of a ‘Culture of Contentment’ in ways more unsettling than intended by economist J K Galbraith in his 1992 book. Happy cartoon figures appear before audience-members on arrival, their anodyne labels hardly fitting the images. Golem looks back to the sleazily purposeless society from which such present-day order arose.
It’s central image is the Golem, or neo-Golem, from the legend of a guardian monster built by medieval Jewry to protect their ghettoes from persecution. 1927’s Golem is anthropomorphic, naked with huge male appendage, and essentially a robot doing all sorts of work, at home and office. But the monster develops, like most modern technology becoming smaller and looking smarter as it does so. From lumbering creature it becomes a flying, streamlined miniature, speaking, increasingly controlling lives until, in a final spurt, it becomes a brain implant, ensuring the kind of peacefully dependent dystopia Aldous Huxley foresaw in Brave New World.
Depressing? It’s certainly sinister, but compulsive viewing thanks to the style 1927’s founders, writer-director Suzanne Andrade and visuals magician Paul Barritt, have developed for the company’s work. Subject and style go hand-in-glove. White-faced, clownishly-garbed characters, sometimes almost indistinguishable from figures drawn in a landscape, integrate with preternatural fluency into the cinematic montage with its scenic rhythm of moving streetscape, workplace and home.
Figures pop-out of windows or doors, or seem to emerge from nowhere in front of James Lewis’s huge screen, which itself increases the sense of cinema. In movement and image, 1927 have an unrivalled wit that demands concentration in searching out details while following the action.
Like the cinema of the year 1927, the action is accompanied by music, played here by keyboards and percussion visible either side of the stage. Paradoxically, the film-like elements heighten the present-tense theatricality, while absorbing it within cinema’s past-tense sense of inevitability, producing a relentless grip.
Performers: Esme Appleton, Will Close, Lillian Henley, Rose Robinson, Shamira Turner.
Voice of Golem: Ben Whitehead.
Recorded Voice: Suzanne Andrade.
Director: Suzanne Andrade.
Designer/Film/Animation: Paul Barritt.
Designer/Associate director: Esme Appleton.
Sound: Laurence Owen.
Music: Lillian Henley.
Costume: Sarah Munro.
Projection screen designer: James Lewis.
Animation associate: Derek Andrade.