Golem At Young Vic: Kinomatic Theatrical Alchemy
Londonist Rating: ★★★★★
Golem is like nothing you've seen before. It's got revolutionary punk bands, a hilarious musical send-up of online dating, an absinthe bar and much frantic pencil sharpening, with visuals conjuring up Bauhaus ballet costumes, Fritz Lang's Metropolis and Andy Warhol's Pop Art at its most commercial. It's from 1927, who brought us the sell-out performances of The Animals and Children took to the Streets, and through their unique alchemy of cinema, animation and slapstick comedy, Golem subversively questions the role and impact of technology on society to unsettling effect.
It all starts with Annie, a librarian ("back in the days when libraries still existed"), and her brother Robert, a quiet, introverted type, who acquires a clay man — Golem — from a former schoolmate-turned-inventor, Phil Sylocate (who later re-appears as a wealthy tycoon, a result of shady dealings with a mysterious, "in-corporate" entity). Robert brings Golem back to his home, after which things gradually change to sinister effect.
While Golem is helpful around the house and soon takes over Robert's mundane job as a "binary back-up man", the negative impacts soon start to add up in startling fashion.Who is in control of Golem? Is Golem ultimately controlling us? The social commentary in this imaginatively seditious black comedy is spot on — and revealed through high-impact visual cues. Watch as the high street gradually becomes unified under a single corporate logo. Watch for subliminal advertising and social interactions being shaped through the interventions of technology in the form of the new and improved "Golem 2.0". It is not long before Robert, his family, friends and colleagues are all subsumed. Will Annie and her punk band, the Underdogs, survive?
There are rather frighteningly accurate observations hinting at social media, online dating websites and corporate control through advertising — even Boris Johnson does not escape unscathed. In spite of its heavy theme, the combination of frenetic slapstick theatre and film animation is simply magic, and the music created for the piece is both rousing and atmospheric. There are plenty of sight gags which are only possible with 1927's creative synthesis of animation, film and live theatre.
So say Yes to Progress! Don't delay! Keep up with the times or you will be left behind! And be sure to see Golem today!
Golem runs at Young Vic, 66 The Cut SE1, until 31 January. Tickets: £10-35. All images courtesy Young Vic and 1927. Londonist saw this performance courtesy of a complimentary ticket.
Last Updated 15 December 2014