Suzanne Andrade (writer/director), Paul Barritt (film, animation, design)
07 October 2015 to 17 October 2015
London-based 1927’s first Manchester visit is part of a huge European tour (the piece was commissioned by the Salzburg Festival, Theatre de la Ville, Paris, and London’s Young Vic) that underlines the sort of connections HOME is plugging in to.
The company specialise in visual effects, here combining claymation figures and stylish cartoon, mostly urban, backgrounds on film with live action and original music, and without HOME we most probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see for ourselves what all the five-star reviews are about.
Golem re-works (writer and director company co-founder Suzanne Andrade) the folk myth of a clay man who comes to life and turns it into a cautionary tale about our increasingly worrying relationship with technology.
Geeky Robert buys the latest must-have gadget, a Golem, who will do Robert’s bidding, fulfil his every wish. “You can wake your Golem and put him to sleep at the end of the day,” Robert is informed. “What you use him for in between is up to you. You are in control.” But not for long…
Conjured up in larger than human size via stop-motion film, integrated with the actors, the appealingly clumpy Golem develops a mind of his own, manipulating Robert into purchases he didn’t know he wanted and opinions he didn’t know he held.
But that is just the beginning, because obsolescence is a natural part of this brave new world, and Golem II soon makes an appearance, at which point the piece goes on to post warnings about trends ranging from next-day delivery consumer satisfaction to speed dating and just about everything else in between.
The technology - the projections mostly, and their integration with the live action - is highly impressive. Forkbeard Fantasy, onetime regular visitors to the late lamented Green Room (just down the road from HOME, as it happens) were doing not totally dissimilar things 20 years or more ago, and though 1927’s technology is more precise, the appeal of the evening depends rather too heavily on it, as the tale it tells becomes repetitive and over-extended, with too much infantile humour and messages that prove very far from original.
The first 15 minutes or so, before Golem appears, are background padding about Robert and his family and later, after Golem I, the only character around with any real appeal, drops out, the final third of the show runs out of charm and ideas. An hour would have been about perfect for what 1927 have to show and tell: 90 minutes is 30 too long.
So, not a five from me. If we did give stars, which we don’t, more like a three-and-a-half.
Reviewer: Alan Hulme