Review Golem, 1927/Young Vic in the West End, Trafalgar Studios By Hannah Goslin

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Much like most of my London reviews, my horizon is slowly being expanded to the different theatres this City has. Trafalgar Studios has been known recently to house actors such as James Mcavoy and Jane Horrocks in small and intimate shows. The studios itself contains two spaces, which contain two different shows at a time; something unusual for the West End. There is a sense of the Western Studio at the WMC in this theatre, which is homely and versatile.

Golem intrigued me initially by its’ marketing. It’s weird and wonderful designs seemed out of the ordinary and with a transfer from the Young Vic, there must be something worth seeing in this show with a name that splits parties on its’ pronunciation.

Golem (‘Go-lem’) is a story about an almost alternative world to ours where the acceleration of media, advertisement and gimmicks quickly take over our lives and control us, when in reality we think that we are the ones in control. This is represented in a clay monster-like creature that is used as a servant to suddenly switch the juxtaposition when influenced by the surrounding society, ultimately subliminally telling us how to live life.

What firstly struck me about this production was the artistic aspect. Walking in, the screen already contained a slightly uneasy collection of drawings of families and persons, accompanied by an eerie soundtrack. When the show began, this changed to this alternative reality world, with a drum set and piano on stage played by two performers, dressed in whichever character they needed to be. There was a reminiscent of alter-reality films such as Hugo, Repo Men and In Time crossed with written fiction such as 1984. However, the artistic aspect and some writing had a sense of Tim Burton, with bright bold colours in costumes and set, darkened make up and strange outfits and hair and the inclusion of contemporary references and comedy.

This continued through to the fantastic set – the performers interacted with cues on the screens which interacted with them when needed. This was extraordinary to watch as we delved into a 2D- 3D world where this alternative world petered on animation and real life. Their placement within the set was so exact that there is a skill to identify in being able to bring across such strong characters and interesting storyline while finding the exact point on stage.

The performers themselves were not only some of the most talented I have witnessed, but managed to bring hilarity and comedy to the narrative but still contain this element in serious scenes. Each had an unusual voice, expressions, body language and stance which was held consistently. Turning of heads and interaction with each other was synchronised, again, reminding much of Tim Burton’s animations. This continued through the use of some character’s doubling up – their talents continuing to shine through how easily they adapted to create new characters while still having the overall common stances of slight hunches and strange sideways facial expressions.

This production is really hard to review – not due to any negativity but more to the abundance of positivity. As a performer, my tastes in what I like to perform in are very selective. While I love scripted pieces, Shakespeare, the more common and likeable, there is a certain feeling of excitement and butterflies in the weird and wonderful; the taboo subjects and those contesting a point. Golem is exactly all of this. Long has it been that a production took my breath away as much as this, and inspired me so much. It’s slowly becoming apparent in my search for shows to watch and review, for entertainment and for interest, that the West End is becoming more open to such theatre and perhaps performances such as Golem are exactly what audiences need to take a leap on.

I only wish that I could really do this production justice. It’s everything you want and everything you need.

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