Trafalgar Studios, London
Artistic phenomenon don’t appear over-night without someone putting their weight behind it. Such must have happened with 1927 whose breakthrough occurred in Edinburgh barely eight years ago and who have since covered the globe visiting five continents, 35 countries and 118 venues!
Now Young Vic Associates, the development of Golem clearly owes its existence to a number of creative godparents (see below) and recently 1927 (I wonder where the name comes from?!) again won huge acclaim for their previous show, The Animals & Children Took to the Streets.
The thing that strikes a newcomer to their work is their sheer inventiveness – a combination of animation, cartoon, live performance and music that curiously seems to be inspired not just by the Monty Python school of surrealist comedy but even earlier, to the silent movie inventors of the early part of the 20th century, such as French film maker Georges Méliès’s The Impossible Voyage (1904) which also mixed animation with theatrical performance.
A rich seam in Jewish legend, 1927’s Golem, loosely based on the novel by Austrian novelist Gustav Meyrink, is, however, not only a superbly executed experiment in cross-forms but presents an uncompromising message about consumerism and the steady take-over of our minds and culture by something that purports to be a servant of human-kind but ends up by controlling it, deadening resistance, reducing culture to corporate uniformity.
Parallels with Apple, Samsung and contemporary gizmos and gadgets designed to take the sting out of work and make our lives easier spring to mind, as well as the misleading appeal to `individual choice’ – a Trojan horse if ever there was one.
At 90 minutes, 1927’s Golem occasionally shows signs of stretch marks – too much teasing out the story of `ordinary’ Robert – if pointedly counterbalanced by telling blasts from the punk band, `Annie and the Underdogs’. But once the benignly helpful Golem 1 gives way to version 2 – a miniature, colourful and cleverly designed variant of a stormtrooper – the piece and storm cloud gather momentum.
It’s hard to over-praise the synchronisation, musical, physical and design skills of 1927. You just have to go and see them!
Created by 1927, runs at Trafalgar Studios, London to May 22
Golem was originally developed as a 1927, Salzburg Festival, Théâtre de la Ville Paris & Young Vic co-production, with support from The Tolmen Centre, Cornwall, Harrogate Theatre, Stratford Circus & The Old Market and funding from Arts Council England through Grants for the Arts.
World premiere of Golem, Salzburg Festival, Aug 22, 2014; UK Premiere Young Vic Theatre, Dec 9, 2014.
First published in Reviewsgate, April 2015