Lets get this out of the way up front: nothing, no combination of meagre words, can convey the magic and technical brilliance of 1927’s Golem. This really is the type of production that, above all, must be seen.
1927, a UK based production company, have developed an intriguing and mesmerising tale based upon a character found in Jewish folklore – Golem. A Golem is an anthropomorphic being that is magically created, from clay, to obey and complete tasks for his master. A Golem is helpful, quiet, and obedient. But, in Golem, mandatory updates change everything. And so does Version 2!
Golem is the modern 1984 and Brave New World: a delectably dark dystopian multimedia mishmash – the perfect vessel for investigating the technology-crazed culture that exists today.
Set in a futuristic yet retro-stylistic world, where pencils are used rather than iPads, Golem is the must-have commodity. He can make you more efficient, and help you be more organised. He is an indispensible item that is always by your side. But as he updates and evolves, shrinking in size while packing more punch, the question arises: is Golem, or his master, the more dependent? Sound familiar?
With a cast of only five, claymation and animation make Golem literally larger than life. The film, animation and design of Paul Barritt are incomparably brilliant and the direction (not to mention writing) by Suzanne Andrade creates a familiarly fascinating world that, having now seen it, would be better to avoid.
The interaction of the cast with technology is seamless and enhances the experience well above what one normally expects in live theatre. A huge, but moveable, projection screen allows creative and dynamic sets, as well as a home for the two dimensional Golem. The lighting design amazingly captures the movement of the cast without washing out the set and animation projections. The ingenious interplay of perspective, form and dimension trick the mind into believing the three dimensional cast are actually on the same plane as the two dimensional Golem.
With such a technologically heightened reality, it is no wonder that even the way characters walk and talk is stylistic. The dialogue is fast paced and at times slightly difficult to decipher. It is unclear whether the lost dialogue is attributable to style, or an artifact of the sheer weight of the technological engineering involved in this production. Furthermore, the on-stage keyboard and percussion compliment an already intricate sound design.
At times, the fast pace and precision of the show didn’t allow the audience sufficient time to shower the adulation and applause it felt necessary (how ironic that the pace of this dystopian tale warning of the dangers of modern world technologies, is dictated by automated animation, film and soundtrack!) Thankfully, the three curtain calls made up for this!
The cast, Esme Appleton (also Associate Direction and Design), Lillian Henley (also music), Will Close (also percussion), Shamira Turner and Rose Robinson combined to form a cohesive ensemble. Each performer portrays a number of characters (as well as musical duties) with skill and fluidity, again giving the impression that Golem is larger than life.
The technical production of Golem is a marvel. The show highlights so many layered and varied technical aspects that work seamlessly together to create a modern masterpiece. This show is a must see: if not for the story, then for the execution.