Review: Golem At The Trafalgar Studios

Posted on 27 April 2015

No sooner had I said that Es Devlin and Luke Halls’ design and video work on The Nether had raised the bar to a new level for this type of thing, along comes the visually stunning production of Golem from theatre group 1927 that serves up an eye-popping blend of performance, animation and music.

Golem, which that had its UK premiere at the Young Vic last year and has now deservedly transferred to the Trafalgar Studios, focuses on the life of Robert (played by Shamira Turner), a young man unlucky in love and stuck in a mundane job, who seems unable to break free from his equally underachieving group of friends and dysfunctional family. But Robert’s life is transformed when he buys a Golem, a clay man who will carry out our hero’s every command without question. That is until the balance shifts and the line between who is master and who is servant becomes decidedly blurred.
It’s a cautionary tale of how technology is taking over our lives, rather than us using it to our advantage. And as we strive for a stress-free Utopia with machines doing all the work, we actually create more woe as we strive for that latest must-have upgrade.
As a message it doesn’t really offer anything that hasn’t been said before but in the hands of the five-strong cast, along with writer/director Suzanne Andrade’s witty script and Paul Barritt’s stunning design Golem at the Trafalgar Studios becomes a wonderfully entertaining and often very poignant piece of theatre.
The actors perform throughout in front of a large screen onto which is projected their environment. This is given further three-dimensional feel by small screens carried on and off under cover of darkness, onto which more images are projected. The large screen also contains a door through which characters pop so that we have real people actually within the film.
The level of invention is a wonder to behold and the choreography that allows the cast to interact with projected images is seamless — a step, an arm or a head placement ever so slightly in the wrong place would ruin the effect, but it never does.
Even at just ninety minutes there’s an argument to be made that the play is a tad too long and that the message risks being repetitive, but one never tires of the superb visuals and the terrific performances always keep it engrossing.