Salzburger Festspiele 2014 - Golem - Landestheater Salzburg

Shamira Turner in 1927’s Golem (at the Young Vic 9 Dec 2014 – 17 Jan 2015). Photo by Bernhard Müller

Occasionally a production comes along that affirms the power that theatre has to convey ideas, express opinion, pose questions and capture the zeitgeist of the moment. Golem, a production by 1927, in its West End transfer from the Young Vic to the Trafalgar Studios does just that and so much more. 

The highly stylised descension into the world that director and writer Suzanne Andrade creates is not only instant but all consuming.

Golem tells the story of the very ordinary Robert Robertson, played with exceptional brilliance and manly charm by Shamira Turner, he is a geeky boy, who lives at home with his sister Annie, and Gran. Robert’s life is introduced as a monotonous failure, he works in the Binary Back Up department entering data, his social life consists of a drink in a grotty club and he is the keyboard player – second fiddle in his sister’s revolutionary rock band Annie and the Underdogs.

He wants to date Joy, the new girl in the office, played with supreme charm by Rose Robinson, her interview song is particularly affecting. Every day is the same, until he buys a Golem from the inventor Phil Sylocates and his life irrevocably changes.

Salzburger Festspiele 2014 - Golem - Landestheater Salzburg

Rose Robinson in 1927’s Golem (at the Young Vic 9 Dec 2014 – 17 Jan 2015). Photo by Bernhard Müller.

By Fiona Leckerman

Golem, a mythical Jewish figure made of mud transforms Robert’s mundane life and all those around him.

Told through a mesmerising, claustrophobic, mix of live performance, film, music and animation and without an interval there is an extreme intensity to the fate that befalls the remarkable cast.

Film is projected on to the set, a large white screen that transforms locations; flats are used to create different scenes. The minimal props fashioned with incredible skill, humour and precise timing to interplay with the film.

The chant to wake Golem up exits Robert’s mouth via film to the animated Golem, their journey to work together walking along the street is both witty and absurd.

It’s a joy to watch such innovative theatrical techniques, as an audience we are kept on our toes, surprised and laughing by the movement, fast passed satirical script and ominous cartoon-like music.

Golem’s dark themes are wrapped in an absurdist shell, the characters are uniformly made up with white faces sporting exaggerated hair styles and costumes; their joined staccato rhythm is unnerving.

Reminiscent of Fritz Lang’s Metopolis in its science fiction style, with the 1920s make-up and that feeling of oppressive inevitability, mixed with animation to revel the darkest Monty Python sketch and a script that is so sharp it penetrates the consciousness, plus music that is both funny and chilling, Golem is an extraordinary piece of theatre.

It seeks to question our need for material things in order to bolster our self-worth and it satirises our impatience as a society for progress with the repetitive slogan “move with the times or you’ll get left behind” which works well to indoctrinate its characters.

Golem is theatrical magic, the ideal combination of style and substance and does what theatre should always aim to do, provoke thought.    

Golem plays at Trafalgar Studios until May 22nd