When I saw the title ‘Golem’ for the first time, I prayed that it was a story connected with the Lord of the Rings franchise. Sadly, it wasn’t.
Transferring from the Young Vic, the company 1927 tells an old-fashioned story but with relation and exploration to the modern world of technology. Robert, a geeky contrived young man working in a binary factory, takes on a creature made out of clay into his life as his slave, known as a Golem. Think of him as an adult Morph. As the play progresses, the Golem takes over his owner’s life with its obsession of modern-day technology and advertising. The Golem is first treated as something to help Robert’s life for the better. But by the end of it, it takes over his life in a turn of events. Just like technology. There is a reason why the Golem becomes such an unlikeable figure by the climax – forcing its way into Robert’s life, doing his everyday chores etc. The Golem IS technology.
However, there is certainly nothing unlikeable about Golem’s visuals. Its rich animation and synchronized interaction with the actors on stage makes it a one-of-a-kind. The style adds to the 1920s old-fashioned style in the story, with edits and fades reminiscent of early silent films. No current production on the West End has dared to take on this sort of animation. However, Golem’s visuals are what make it stand out from the rest – not necessarily the storyline or the performances. After 10 minutes, you get tired of the animation and wanting something new. It takes a while for the role of technology to become clear in the story, which as a result drags the show on for a considerable while.
Performances to give praise to, however, are Rosie Robinson as Joy and Gran. Her vocal work and accents are spot on, injecting the vast majority of the comedy into the production. Shamira Turner, as Robert, is another surprising performance. When on stage, I could not guessed her gender-swapping until I read the programme afterwards. Her ability to create an emotional connection with an animated clay figure on a screen, voiced sufficiently by Ben Whitehead, should be commended too.
Is Golem made for the West End? Without question – no. I’m surprised it wasn’t tested at the Edinburgh Fringe, which it would take by storm. 1927 have taken on a brave move by bringing innovative animation and incredibly surrealistic humour, in terms of the vintage style of the animation and costumes, to the Trafalgar Studios. It isn’t a classic play by any means, but makes us question our relationship with technology, placing it in an old-fashioned context yet told in a fresh and exciting way. I look forward to future productions from 1927…
Reviewed by Jack Grey
Golem is playing at the Trafalgar Studios until 22 May 2015. Click here for tickets