Theatre, Contemporary theatre
3 out of 5 stars
© Richard Haughton

Physical theatre company Gecko delves into the concept of caring in an officious universe

Suffolk-based company Gecko’s physical theatre-cum-dance piece could be really good. It’s funny, surreal, a bit mad and a little poignant. But it gets too lost in its own wilful kookiness and rambles on too long for it to work.

Their set is fabulous. Towering filing cabinets crowd round a central bare space. Drawers open to reveal flashing red lights, weird noises and even tables and chairs. We’re in an institute of some kind, an office: a place where the workers have to adhere to bureaucratic rules, small-talk and deadlines. Two men in suits are trying to get their Stuff Done, they’re being monitored though – a big red light flashes overhead if they’ve done something wrong. The two men strut about the stage, look a little frazzled, then burst into dance together.

There’s no real plot to this show, it’s more a meditation on the nature of working for a nameless, faceless co-operation and what happens to ourselves when we drown in deadlines. There’s humour in the madness of it, in the performers’ clown-like mumblings and frenzied gobbled-gook rants. Everything feels a little Kafka-esque and there’s also more than a ring of ‘1984’ about the whole thing.

But director Amit Lahav, who also stars in the show, lets the piece drag on too long. Where the opening is tight, it gets increasingly baggy, long-winded and more and more abstract. Electrifying early sections are dragged out into unwieldly set pieces.

It’s a pity, because there are moments where ‘Institute’ really shines, offering a witty and satisfyingly absurd view of the mundane daily grind.


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