Review: Golem

Golem bakes the ancient judaic clay-man myth into a brutal yet hilarious critique of advertising, automation and our over-reliance on technology.

This play from London theatre company 1927 and writer/director Suzanne Andrade strikes at Western society’s consumerist heart with biting humour and a remarkable technicolour array of projected scenes.

The show is played amid the backdrop of high-definition projections, with actors fitting perfectly into their own niches onstage, even interacting with projected figures like the titular Golem. They move in time with the continuous soundtrack of the performance, brought to us by two wonderful musicians on stage left and right. It is highly stylised theatre.

Golem’s characters, played with expert precision by Will Close, Rose Robinson, Shamira Turner, Lillian Henley and Esme Appleton, are like dolls jerked through a dystopian, incredibly colourful and macabre world by forces far beyond their control. Yet, amid the sad society they exist in, Golem is incredibly funny.

From charmingly witty rhyming dialogue to ingenious settings like their ‘Binary Back-Up’ workplace to visual gags projected on screen, Golem is laden with humour.

Much like Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s highly stylised films, Amelie and Delicatessen, the world Andrade brings us is a circus mirror reflection of our own. In it we see affection for humanity’s faults and foibles, but the satirical edge sharpens in the more dramatic scenes. Lines like, “I love my work and I would love someone to do it for me,” perfectly sum up this performance’s cutting satire.

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Sadly, the exaggerated accents of the performers are sometimes submerged by the swell of the live music on stage, robbing the audience of a few jokes and minor plot details, but there is plenty to look at while the words are lost.

At times the story does feel a little one-sided as it mercilessly dissects our attachment to technology, with scant credence given to any argument that modern technologies enhance and save lives, but that’s not the point. Golem gives the audience a firm elbow in the ribs to remind them that their lives might well be out of their control.

4 stars

Golem continues until Sunday, March 13 at the Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre adelaidefestival.com.au Photos: Tony Lewis

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