Review: Golem, Young Vic Theatre

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Dazzling animation, superb performances and a profound message blend together perfectly in this fantastically, absurdly brilliant production of Golem at the Young Vic.

Created by the 1927 theatre group, Golem is the story of Robert (Shamira Turner), an awkward man, who buys and befriends a Golem – a clay man who was created to obey his master’s every instruction.

At first this new companion is a delight for Robert, an introvert who splits his time between working in his mechanistic job in binary coding with evenings as the keyboard player in his sister’s anarchic punk band Annie and the Underdogs (who’ve never performed a live gig as they all have performance anxiety – but they practice a lot).

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Golem’s obedient at first but soon he starts to learn, to absorb everything in our information overload culture. Golem starts to question Robert’s choices, his decisions, and soon Golem’s shaping Robert’s behaviour. Robert changes, becomes a different man with a different outlook on the world to the point where we’re left to wonder, who’s running who?

Golem has at its heart a familiar warning, that obsession with progress is crushing our individuality and freedom, but the bold production and its heartfelt storytelling make this fresh and exciting.

Directed and written by Suzanne Andrade, this production is a gem. A cast of five play all the characters, as well as a lot of the instruments. Yet there is no set to speak of. Instead, the vivid, bright, crazy world of Robert and his Golem is brought to life through animation and film projection against the backdrop of the Main Stage at the Young Vic.

Salzburger Festspiele 2014 - Golem - Landestheater Salzburg

The film, animation and design by Paul Barritt is stunning, incredible and worth the ticket price alone but do not think this is style over substance for this is a gripping play which really makes you laugh, and also a leaves you a little terrified for our future.

The talent behind this stunning production is 1927, an award-winning theatre company that always look to blend live music and animation with their performance and storytelling to create these unique productions. It is the first time I have seen their work and I was just blown away.

If you were to analyse the show’s components you might think it quite strange – the quirky outfits, the bizarre, frenzied animation – but if you let go and just immerse yourself in their world, the pay-off is wonderful.

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Of course what 1927 is showing us is not fiction but fact – this is our world. Its message may not be new but it was profound. It was telling that by the end, as we’re left to consider that the next stage would be having an implant in our heads to modify our behaviour for our own benefit, the laughs had dried up. The message had hit home. This is real.

Amazing. Productions this exciting, this fresh and dynamic, don’t come along all the time so I was thrilled to see it.

Young Vic Theatre, London to January 31, 2015

Image Credits:

1. Esme Appleton in 1927s Golem at the Young Vic, 9 Dec 2014 – 17 Jan 2015. Photo by Bernhard Muller

2. Will Close in 1927s Golem at the Young Vic, 9 Dec 2014 – 17 Jan 2015. Photo by Bernhard Muller

3. Shamira Turner in 1927s Golem at the Young Vic, 9 Dec 2014 – 17 Jan 2015 Photo by Bernhard Muller

4. Shamira Turner in 1927s Golem at the Young Vic 9 Dec 2014 – 17 Jan 2015. Photo by Bernhard Muller.

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