Adelaide Festival Theatre Review: Golem

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 5.22.34 pmPhoto Credit: 1927

Unsettling, hilarious, exhilarating – if you only see one show this Festival season, make it 1927’s Golem. This captivating blend of live theatre, animation, claymation and music is an experience not to be missed.

Golem tells the story of siblings Annie and Robert, who live with their grandmother in a darkly whimsical but strangely familiar world. By night they and their friends are Annie and the Underdogs, a revolutionary punk band who promise to “ruin your Christmas” with their scathing indictments of bourgeois society. One day Robert, who has a weakness for bizarre gadgets, buys Golem – a man made of clay who will obey his owner’s every command. Robert is pleased with his new toy, despite Annie’s misgivings. However as time goes on, under the influence of the mysterious Go corporation, Golem becomes less like Robert’s helper and more like his advisor in every aspect of life, from career to fashion to romance. “Golem knows what I want before I do,” Robert explains. Who is really controlling whom? You may leave the theatre looking at your own electronic devices in quite a different way.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 5.22.25 pmPhoto Credit: 1927

Artistically, Golem is stunning. The almost seamless combination of multiple media transforms even the simple experience of watching Robert strut down an animated street on his way to work into a visual joy. The play’s aesthetic is reminiscent of Weimar German modernism, bringing to mind the work of collage artist Hannah Höch, the Bauhaus school, and Robert Wiene’s Expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920). Irreverent puns, pop culture references and visual humour are scattered throughout the set and script. The cabaret-influenced (and revolutionary punk!) music is quirky and expressive. Simply put, Golem is a brilliant piece of art on so many levels.

My only criticism is that occasionally the volume of the music and sound effects, together with the performers’ quirky pronunciation, made the dialogue a little hard to understand. However, this is only a small problem and should not dissuade anyone from seeing this remarkable show.

Golem is showing at the Dunstan Playhouse on 10-12 March at 7pm, on 12 March at 2pm and on 13 March at 3pm.

5 out of 5 stars

Matilda Handsley-Davis


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