Saturday, 25 April 2015

Golem, Trafalgar Studios London 17/4/15

According to folklore, a Golem is a being made of clay that does as it is commanded. Versions of the golem story have appeared throughout the artistic world over the years, indeed the cover art of this production's programme appears to have been inspired by poster of the the 1920 silent horror film Der Golem, and anyone familiar with the late great Terry Practchett's Discworld series will have come across Golems. This innovative take on the golem legend, created by 1927 and first seen at the Young Vic, places its golem tale in a fantastical futuristic setting and explores when the boundaries can shift and switch between master and commander and just who is really in control of our thoughts and decisions.

Robert, the central character, is somewhat of a geek, obsessed with the latest invention to make his life better, most of which quickly become obsolete. He is persuaded to purchase the latest big thing, a golem, that can be woken and sent to sleep by a simple incantation, and whose sole purpose is to make life simpler and more successful for its owner. It's starts well, golem takes on the dull tasks with ease, but shadowy influences are at play, and Golem is soon developing and has an increasing influence on Robert's choices, and things only escalate when he receives an upgrade!

The design of the show is striking, clever use is made of projection, with the actors interacting directly with animations that 'create' the set and other characters, leading to seamless action and virtually limitless scope to create a fantastical world on the blank canvas of the simple set. The interaction of the actors with the animation is finely honed, with lots of clever detail throughout. Actors take multiple roles, including providing the haunting soundtrack, and the 90 minute straight through running time simply flies by. There is plenty of comedy both in the performances, and in little details of the animation, whilst a slightly sinister overtone is present throughout.

The themes of the play really make you think, there is a clear and deliberate parallel with modern technology advances of today. It makes you wonder how much your choices are your own, and how much they may have been influenced by the faceless tech companies 'whispering in your ear' as your life is made 'simpler' by their advances. 

Since seeing the show I've realised that it will be coming up to Manchester as part of the new Home arts centre's opening season. I definitely think it deserves a repeat visit as there is so much detail and so much to admire in this production that you probably need a second look to take it all in. 

Really very clever and extremely enjoyable theatre. I'm impressed, and wondering if I should turn the wifi off!

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