Thursday, March 10, 2016

GOLEM Adelaide Festival of Arts 2016


Created by 1927. Director and writer Suzanne Andrade. Film. animation and design. Paul Barritt. Music Lillian Henley. Performed by Esme Appleton, Lillian Henley, Rose Robinson, Shamira Turner and Will Close. Voice of Golem. Ben Whitehead. Dunstan Playhouse. A 1927, Salzburg Festival, Theatre de la Ville Paris and Young Vic co-production. Adelaide Festival Centre. Adelaide Festival of Arts. Adelaide Festival of Arts 2016. March 8 - 13 2016


Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Golem. Photo by Bernhard Mueller

Meet Robert the Geek. Robert is a nerd who by day works in the Binary Backup Department stringing binary numbers 0 and 1 in sequences to represent the simplest form of programming data to represent letters, numbers and characters. In 1927’s brilliantly conceived and executed  visually imaginative display of live performance, comic book handmade animation, Claymation and onstage live music that is all you need to know about Binary coding. The rest is sheer, mindboggling fantasy. It is also worth knowing that Robert Robertson lives with his sister Annie and his grandmother. Annie has created a hip punk band of survivors of school bullying  and Robert moonlights as a member of the band. That is until he happens to pass Phil Sylocates’ Golem shop. A background of roughly drawn shop facades sweeps past as Robert makes his way down streets of buildings, cafes, shops and nightclubs.  Spruiker Phil draws Robert into his shop and that is where 1927’s modern day fable really begins.
Golem. Photo by Bernhard Mueller
Drawing on the ancient Jewish folklore of the man who creates Golem out of clay to satisfy his every need, 1927 has created a modern parable, a startling, disturbing and comical glimpse of human frailty and obsession with the materialistic life and all it offers the safe, secure and comfortable modern person. Sylocates’ smooth entrepreneurial hard sell is all it takes for Robert to succumb and acquire his very own Golem Version One, a clay animation that is guaranteed to satisfy Robert’s every whim. But beware of what you wish for, and the servile Golem has a way of questioning Robert’s judgement and slyly establishing authority and control.
When Golem Version One appears to spin out of control and self-destruct, the Robertson family appears free of control, until Golem version 2, a mini dynamite-powered golem swings into action, urging Robert to vie for promotion as supervisor of the Bibary Backup Depot, over the obvious successor Julian. The misogynistic sexist golem turns Robert against the 35 year old, frumpy love interest Joy: “She only wants to trick you into having babies” and setting Robert up with two attractive girlfriends, dressing him in outlandish clothes. Golem Version 2 is securely in control and the servant is now the master, and when Golem 2 is no longer able to satisfy the greedy desire for more , then there will always be Golem Version 3 to do Robert’s bidding, Or has that become the other way around?
1927’s Golem is a dire warning against the invidious control of a technology designed to do our bidding and yet defining our desires. It is the way of a world that robs us of free will and makes us dependent on machines and technology. This is not a new premise. Earlier science fiction writers have long pronounced the dangers of a society, reliant upon technology to be their pot of materialistic gold. The servant has become the master and the master the monster.
Golem. Photo by Bernhard Mueller
What is different in 1927’s  version of individual reliance on technological advancement and genie in the bottle wish fulfillment is the delightfully innovative, ingenious  and captivating technology employed to create the three dimensional magic of this production. Golem is the ideal festival event for the entire family, a hybrid performance that entrances, illuminates and entertains.