Theatre review: Golem at Trafalgar Studios
- Credit: Archant
Hackney company 1927’s West End debut is a technical triumph, says Alex Bellotti.
With shows such as 1984 and The Nether taking the West End by storm, it’s a fine time for futuristic dystopias. While Golem at Trafalgar Studios certainly fits this mould, what’s most intriguing is how it reflects not just the future, but our past as well.
Moments into this production by Hackney company 1927, the actors transport us via a mesmerising backdrop of animation and live music to a land inspired by German expressionism and silent film. This is the world of Robert Robertson (Shamira Turner), a geeky deadbeat who lives with his sister, narrator Annie (Charlotte Dubery), and his grandmother (a versatile Rose Robinson) in a gorgeously drawn neighbourhood reminiscent of any old London backwater.
Robert really is a loser – so entertainingly nasal and visibly awkward, I initially presumed he was played by a teenage boy. His luck changes however when he buys an ancient clay creature called a Golem to do his bidding, but as we follow his rising fortunes at work and in his love life, it becomes clear that slowly the roles are being reversed.
Having transferred from a critically-acclaimed stint at the Young Vic last year, director Suzanne Andrade’s creation was always likely to succeed at Trafalgar Studios, so perhaps what’s most intriguing is how at home 1927 look on their West End debut. Their parable on the dangers of consumer culture and capitalism probably sheds little new light on the subject, but the way the actors work seamlessly with the giant projection screen and live music (played by fellow cast members) is so breathtaking it’s hard to care.
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From little moments like Gran dusting away a moth to Annie’s grand, psychedelic trip into the corporate machine, the level of technical ingenuity demands a lot of each performer, but they rise to the challenge in both characterisation and choreography. This is multimedia theatre as it should be, where each part is essential, not a novelty.
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